Winter can really take its toll on vehicles. From faulty electrics to cracked windscreen wipers, you might experience a whole range of problems behind the wheel when colder weather sets in.
So if you want to save yourself the hassle of a vehicle breakdown this chilly season, here are five ways to reduce the risk of a car-related mishap.
1. Pay attention to your battery
The last thing you want is for your tyre to go flat. If you tend to use your car for short journeys, consider charging the battery at least once a week during cold spells. This is particularly important if your battery is over 3 years old.
Also make sure to switch all electrical loads off at the end of a journey before turning the engine off. This helps to ensure you don’t drain the battery unnecessarily the next time you turn the engine on. Avoiding using things like heated seats and screen for longer than you need to also helps to avoid draining the battery.
Always make sure to look out for signs of corrosion on your battery cables and clamps too as this can limit the flow of the current. If you’re able to park your car in a garage overnight as well, this will help protect the battery from the very lowest temperatures.
With all that said, old batteries can still struggle, so if you’ve noticed that your just isn’t holding charge, it’s probably time to get a new one.
2. Check your tyres
By law, your tyres are required to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, but for safety, we strongly recommend that you replace your tyres before the legal limit is reached. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing tyres at 3mm.
This is particularly important when travelling in difficult weather conditions such as snow, ice or heavy rain.
Having plenty of tread on your tyres helps with traction and grip, making it easier for you to keep control of your car. As well as paying attention to the tread, look out for general signs of damage including cracks, splits and bulges. If you notice any problems, get your tyres checked out by an expert and, if necessary, replaced.
It’s also important to keep your tyres inflated to the right pressure. This will improve handling and minimise the risk of a blowout, which can be particularly dangerous when road conditions are poor.
3. Give your wiper blades a once over
Wiper blades don’t last forever, and you don’t want to discover that yours need replacing when you’re driving in snow or rain. The grit that’s used to keep roads free from ice during the winter can quickly cover your windscreen in a dirty film, making it impossible to see clearly unless you have properly functioning wipers. So, now’s the time to give your blades a once over, checking them for cracks and splits. If you see any sign of damage, change them as soon as possible.
4. Keep an eye on coolant, oil, screen wash and fuel levels
Although your car’s coolant system is sealed and therefore shouldn’t need to be topped up, it’s a good idea to check just in case – especially before a long journey. Make sure you check the level when the engine is cold, and if you do need to top it up, refer to your handbook to make sure you’re using the right coolant.
Keep tabs on your screen wash level too, and always use a good quality wash additive or pre-mix that won’t freeze down to temperatures at least as low as -15°C.
Running too low on oil can be very bad news for your car engine, potentially leading to catastrophic damage. It’s never a good time for this to happen, but it’s especially worrying if this causes you to breakdown in winter. You could find yourself waiting for a recovery vehicle for a long time in unpleasant, cold conditions. So, make sure you check your oil levels and top them up if they’re low.
It might sound obvious, but always ensure you have enough fuel before setting off on a journey. When temperatures dip, you really don’t want to get stranded.
If your car’s due to have a service soon, get it booked in now. This will help you to keep your vehicle in the best possible condition and avoid any nasty surprises over winter.
5. Always be prepared
Taking these steps will help you to avoid a winter breakdown, but there’s always a chance that you’ll find yourself in difficulty during the colder months. In case this happens, it’s important to be prepared by keeping some emergency supplies in your car. Some of things we reccomend are:
– Car blankets and warm clothes
– Torch and spare batteries
– Car phone charger
– Two emergency car triangles
– Hi-vis jacket
– Food and drink
– Ice scraper and de-icer spray
– Jump leads
– Sturdy footwear
– Map and first aid kit