The winter weather can be tough on your car and can also make for treacherous driving conditions. With the cold weather setting in, here are our top tips for getting your car winter-ready.
1. Servicing Your Car
If you're going to be putting your car through its paces this winter, it's worth treating it to a pre-winter service and overall health check, just to ensure everything's in tip top condition.
If you don't want to fork out for a full service, then at the very minimum you should get an oil and filter change. Also make sure that there's sufficient antifreeze. A lot of modern cars now have lifelong antifreeze, in which case you won't need to do anything, but it's worth double checking and topping up if you've got a car that needs it.
2. Looking after Your Car Battery
Cold weather can be very damaging to car batteries. If your battery has seen better days then it might be a good idea to replace it before it leaves you stranded out in the cold somewhere. Remember, with your headlights and heaters running, your car battery will be working twice as hard over the winter.
If your car is likely to sit on the driveway or in the garage for any significant length of time, then it could be worth investing in a trickle charger. This plugs into the mains and slowly charges your car battery so that you can keep the battery topped up while the car's not in use.
3. Checking Your Car Tyres
On icy or wet roads, you'll be relying on the performance of your tyres more than ever. Check that they're not worn and that they still have deep tread of 3mm or more all over. Also check for signs of damage such as cracks or bulges and replace them if needed.
If you're likely to be driving in really cold weather, or if you'll be covering a lot of miles over the winter, you might want to consider investing in some good winter tyres. These will make a huge difference to the way your car handles in icy conditions, and it's actually a legal requirement to have winter tyres fitted if you're going to be heading into certain parts of Europe over the winter months.
4. Maintaining Visibility
Long, dark nights and poor weather conditions mean that visibility is likely to be compromised over the winter, so you'll want to do everything you can to limit this.
Check that all your lights are working as they should be, taking time to regularly check around the whole car to make sure all of your indicator lights are working as well as brake lights, tail lights, headlights, the reversing light and the fog light. If these get mucky, give them a clean to make sure they're working at their full potential. Keep a set of spare bulbs and fuses in the glovebox and familiarise yourself on how to change these in case you need to.
Your windscreen wipers are likely to see a lot of action over the soggy British winter, and road spray containing oil, salt and dirt can quickly build up on them. This will make them far less effective and cause them to smear your windscreen instead of clearing it. Give them a regular clean to remove any grime so that they work properly when you need them to.
Also, make sure that you've got a decent ice scraper in your car at all times, and always de-ice your windscreen fully before setting off anywhere.
For more information on how to stay safe on the roads this winter, see Tips for Safe Driving in Winter.