10 Steps for a Winter Ready Car
Breaking down is a drivers worst nightmare at the best of times but the thought of breaking down in winter and being stranded roadside definitely sends chills down your spine. Unfortunately, during winter breakdowns are more common as the cold weather and challenging road conditions can expose your car to faults and failures.
However, you don’t need to live in fear of breaking down and getting your car breakdown proofed is easy to do with our 10 steps to get your car winter ready.
When preparing your car for winter, one of the most important steps you can take is checking your car tyres. You should be aiming to have a tread of at least 2mm but 3mm will put you at the top of the class. If you can afford to then switching to winter or all season tyres with a high silica content will help to prevent tread hardening at low temperatures and improve road grip.
Prepare for Emergencies
You may already have a small emergency kit in the boot of your car but updating it for the winter season is always a good idea. Depending on where you live and the types of roads you drive on a daily basis will dictate what you keep in your kit.
Always carry with you a blanket, some water and snacks so no matter how long you breakdown for you always have warmth and food. A torch, jump leads, ice scraper, de-icer and a reflective jacket are all other essentials which may help you during an emergency. If you regularly drive on remote roads then you may also wish to carry a shovel, salt – to clear snow and ice, cardboard or carpet – to gain traction under tyres, tow rope and snow chains.
Be Battery Wise
Your car battery is responsible for powering the starter motor, igniting the ignition and powering your lights. During winter more strain is put upon your car battery as you will more than likely increase the usage of your lights, windscreen wipers and heater.
To avoid your battery running low on charge it’s recommended you avoid using heaters for any longer than necessary once windows have cleared, and turn off electricals which are non-essential before starting your vehicle.
A clear windscreen is essential when driving during treacherous winter conditions. In fact if your windscreen isn’t cleared properly then you could face a fine. Clear any dirt, snow, rain or mist from your windscreen before you set off on the roads. Ensure your windscreen wipers are fit for use, top up your windscreen wash with winter friendly fluid and you’re good to go.
Checking your lights before you pull away will ensure you can see the road ahead clearly. Turn your lights on and then get out the car to check that both the front and tail lights are working correctly. If there has been frost or snow overnight then make sure you clean your car lights properly to ensure other drivers can see your vehicle clearly.
Check your Brakes
Your brakes are perhaps the most important item in your cars system so checking the brakes are in working order and meeting the correct stopping distances is essential. During winter stopping distances are increased and whilst brakes are checked during a cars MOT service it’s always worth checking them throughout the year.
Top up your Oil
If you’re savvy about your car maintenance then it’s more than likely that you regularly check the oil level in your vehicle. However, during winter cold weather can thicken engine oil increasing the work the battery has to do. A thinner oil will prevent the battery from overworking itself and keep your car running smoothly.
Even during the cold months your engine still needs to be cooled, so checking the coolant level is essential during winter. Combining an equal mixture of coolant with water is recommended to prevent freezing. Coolant is inexpensive to purchase and you can check which type is right for your car in your vehicle handbook.
Warm up your Car
When you’re in a rush it can be tempting to jump in the car and whizz off before you’ve even checked to see if the car is winter road worthy. Warming up your car beforehand will not only make the morning commute easier to cope with but will also let you perform your road checks a little easier such as scraping ice off your car.
Winter Proof your Driveway
Winter proofing your driveway will make your getaway easy and less dangerous during winter. Sprinkling salt on your drive and walkways will make pulling away safer and make icy driveways a thing of the past.