Despite the unusually warm weather for Halloween this year, it’s a good time to get your car ready for the winter now before it gets too cold. With Christmas coming up and the busy rush on the roads getting to see relatives at Christmas time, you’ll want your car to be well prepared for slippery icy roads, heavy rain and snowfall. This brief article will help you check your car’s vital signs for Winter in an update to our original article last year.
Car Battery – check for winter weather
It’s hard to believe how many people get stranded in the winter due to their car battery failing to start the engine but it’s an awful lot and very easy to remedy. Your battery takes more strain in the winter to power the ignition (especially diesel cars), heat it and keep the lights on longer. Here are the best signs that your battery may need changing:
- Is your car battery over 2 years old?
Older batteries struggle to maintain their charge. If you’ve noticed your battery struggling to start the engine, then now’s a good time to change it.
- How is the condition of the battery? Have you been regularly using the car over the year or are there frequent periods when you don’t use the car which could leave the battery to drain?
A well conditioned battery should hold it’s charge for a longer period, whereas batteries left to discharge frequently will struggle to keep their charge in winter weather.
If you need a car battery health check, give us a call on 01761 415 501 and we’ll happily test it for you.
Wiper Blades and Windscreen Fluid – ready for winter?
With the increased dirt from leaves, salt and oil during winter, you’ll likely find your windscreen is covered with dirt on most wet winter journeys. Therefore, it’s sensible to keep checking your washer fluid levels so you don’t run out. You can check out our refilling Windscreen Washer Fluid article if you’re not sure how to replace it. Also having new windscreen wipers will help avoid streaks and squeaks on your screen leaving you to concentrate clearly on the road ahead. We also have a handy guide to help you replace your wiper blades. Also, try to keep some spare windscreen anti-freeze spray in the car should you find your windscreen iced up again in the middle of a car park. Visibility is crucial on the road in the winter and keeping your vision on the road clear will help you avoid any accidents.
Tyres – are they legal and suitable for winter weather
Tyres are your main contact with the road surface, so if you notice any signs of wear or a lack of tread on your tyres, it’s sensible to get them replaced and could even save your life in bad road conditions. Some tyres are better suited for different seasons so check that your fitted tyres are suitable for the winter, otherwise get them changed over. Be aware of the tyre pressure too which will change slightly for winter conditions – check your manufacturers manual for further information. For further information, read our our tyre article which can help you assess your tyres.
Engine Anti-Freeze Levels – replace summer coolant
Now that summer is over, it’s a good time to flush out the old summer coolant in your engine’s radiator and replace it with winter anti-freeze. Always check the instructions and you should be covered by most anti-freeze solutions down to -5 degrees celsius. If you’re not sure how to locate your car’s expansion tank to check the anti-freeze levels, check our DIY article. Don’t forget to keep checking your levels every month thereafter just in case you have a leak and don’t ignore any warning lights.
Locks, Handles & Hinges – keep them lubricated
When freezing temperatures arrive in winter, you’ll find that water can get into the smallest of areas and freeze. Therefore you should lubricate locks, handles and hinges before freezing weather occurs so that you can still open your car. You can use WD40 oil for locks and tricky to access door handles. For hinges try to use white lithium grease available at most car maintenance stores. If you do get a iced lock or handle you can always use some anti-freeze windscreen solution if you’re in a rush. Some manufacturers now include heated keys, or door handle elements to prevent this issue now.
Car Lights – are they all working and clean?
It may be obvious and a legal requirement but it’s amazing how many people still set-off in winter without checking whether all of their car lights work (including often forgotten fog lights) and are clean enough to be visible. Forgetting to clean your lights or replace them when they fail will not only get you a fine if spotted by the police but you’re risking your own safety as well as other road users safety.
Prepare for a Car Breakdown – keep warm and be visible
If you have the misfortune of a car breakdown or be in a car accident during winter, it’s vital that you keep your car stocked up with suitable warm, waterproof clothing, emergency food, water and high visibility jackets/signs/torches. The last thing you want is to be stranded waiting for a repair vehicle in the cold, wet and dark without adequate clothing to keep you dry and warm or visible to other road users.
Get your car serviced
Whilst many of these tips you can do yourself, there may be other issues you can’t see without expert mechanical advice from a reputable garage. Here at MCM Garage we can help service and give your car a full winter check to help avoid any breakdown surprises. Please get in touch with us to arrange a winter health check via our contact page or call us on 01761 415 501.