We are approaching Winter, that time of year when our cars start to develop a mind of their own. That's right, I'm talking about those cold morning coughs and splutters, and I don't mean from us, but our car's.
Winter is a season which presents some of the most challenging driving conditions, so it's really important that we know what to look for and identify in our cars this time of year. With breakdowns doubling during the winter period, its important to be informed so we don't get caught and are prepared for the weather to come.
Here at Harlequin Garage Ltd, we have produced a vital checklist of potential issues our customers face during the winter season. The checklist isn't too different to the standard checks that should be carried out any other time of the year, but there are a few important extras... so read up and be prepared!
Check your battery
The cold and damp weather can really affect your car's battery. You will hear a problem with your battery when you turn on the car, and if there is a problem it could mean that your battery was probably on its way out anyway. It is possible to check your own battery if you have the right equipment, but it is easier to get it checked out with a specialist.
There are many varieties of batteries and again your local garage can help advise you on the battery you need and also fit it for you. Prices range from around £60 to £100 depending on the size, type and electrical current produced.
Check your exterior lights
Salt from the grit put down on roads during the winter months can build up on your exterior lights and reduce visibility. As obvious as it sounds, its important to check your lights are working are clear, especially with darker evenings and longer nights it is important to see and be seen. It can be useful to carry extra bulbs, should a light go out when driving.
Top up your fuel
This time of year, it is really important to make sure you have at least a quarter of your tank filled with fuel to avoid being stranded in colder weather.
Check your screen wash and anti-freeze
Anti-freeze as the name suggests, stops the water in your cars coolant system from freezing. You can check how effective your anti-freeze is by purchasing an anti-freeze tester. When the engine is cold, you need to unscrew the coolant reservoir cap and pop the tester into the coolant and squeeze the bulb so it withdraws the coolant. The tester will be able to read the freezing point of the anti-freeze. You can purchase an anti-freeze tester for as little as £1.99. It is an important test to carry out as having too much water in the coolant system will dilute the anti-freeze which wont cool the engine down and therefore result in serious engine damage. About 50% water and 50% anti-freeze is a good mix.
Many screen washes have a lower freezing temperature than water, so if you make sure you top up the windscreen washer bottle under the bonnet, it will prevent your car windscreen from freezing up and will help increase visibility during the cold and wet winter months.
Check your tyres
It is possible to purchase Winter tyres specifically for this time of year. It means that despite freezing temperatures your tyres will still have exceptional grip in snowy and icy weather. If purchasing these type of tyres isn't viable for you, simply checking the tread depth of your tyres is really important. The legal limit is 1.6mm but it is advised to have more than this as it can really improve your steering and braking. It is also good practice to check your tyre pressure every now and again.
Locks and Door seals
To avoid grappling with frozen car doors that simply wont open, a useful trick is to coat the door trims with either Vaseline or furniture polish. A squirt of WD-40 in the locks will also help them from freezing.
Here a few essentials to pack or keep in your car during the winter months:
Winter driving Kit
- A mobile phone and charger kit
- A hazard warning triangle
- Hi-visibility vest
- A first aid kit
- A torch
- A toe rope
- A road atlas or sat nav
- Warm clothes
- De-icer and a scraper
- Food and water