Winter Car Care - Is Your Car Ready?

The modern car is a wonderful piece of technology and it is true to say that many of us take it for granted, summer and winter. The real concern for motoring organisations is that many motorists do not bother with a car winter check, which isn’t something that necessarily need to be done by a garage, just a few simple checks that will ensure that your car is ready for the road when winter weather arrives.

Breakdowns more than double during the winter months, as snow, ice, wind and rain cause havoc with driving conditions. However, a few simple winter car checks can ensure both you and your car are prepared for what’s to come.

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Cover the Basics

The first consideration, and one of the easiest, is to ensure that the screen wash bottle is topped up on a regular basis. It's quick, easy and it could save your life. Seeing clearly through the windscreen is one of the most important aspects of driving. The screen wash bottle is clearly marked, usually with a diagram of a screen wiper and should be topped up using proprietary screen wash at the correct proportions.

Most containers of screen wash concentrate will have the ratio of water to concentrate shown, for example to protect the solution from freezing at -14C, the ratio would need to be at least one part screen wash to two parts water.

Lighting is an area which again should be checked, it sounds simple and it really is, the days are shorter and the weather is worse during the winter months and so maintenance of your exterior lights is an important aspect of getting your car ready for the winter.

Check all lights are working, we can soon see that with salt and dirt, this builds up quickly, this reduces visibility at night as well as during periods of snow, fog and rain, it is a good idea to have a set of bulbs in case of failure.

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Under the Hood

Cold winter weather can be a battery killer; during the warmer periods your starter motor spins away without a problem, but with the first frost the sound of the motor giving up after one or two weak turns is a sound that we do not want to hear, if yours has done that, then it is on its way out! If you have the correct equipment, checking the battery is easy, but if you can get the car started, it’s far easier to ask a specialist, they will even fit a new one for you.

Antifreeze in the radiator is essential, without it you will be faced with a huge bill, possibly a replacement engine. Modern cars have a sealed system and when the car leaves the factory it will have the correct coolant in the engine, which is usually for life. This is not something an owner would be expected to check and this should be done by a garage. Older cars do not have the benefit of sealed systems and they should have the system drained and new antifreeze added in the correct proportion every year.

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Tyre Checks

Tyres are vital all year round, but more so in winter when grip on untreated surfaces could be poor, checking the tread depth of your existing tyres is important. The legal limit is 1.6mm, but having more than this can dramatically improve steering and braking. Tyre pressures should be checked regularly, and it is also well worth while considering fitting winter tyres.

Because having your car prepared for use in the winter months is vital, it may be worthwhile having a professional expert to do it for you, it will not cost much and some even offer free winter car checks.

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