Getting your car through the winter months

snowyroadIce, snow and heavy rain have us wrapping ourselves up warmly but we often don’t think about protecting the car too during colder months. Here are a few tips for keeping your car healthy and safe this winter.

First off, consider getting your annual service in the late autumn so that everything is checked over before the winter sets in to minimise any potential problems.

Check the tyres
In bad weather tyres with low tread won’t adhere to the road surface as intended. Take time to get tyres inspected. Make sure that the tyre pressure is correct and that the tread depth is above the bare minimum of 1.6mm – ideally for the winter consider keeping tread depth above 3mm, or perhaps even fitting winter tyres.

Check the battery
Car batteries work much harder in colder weather so should be in tip-top condition. The recommended life span of a battery is around 3-5 years. Consider changing an aging battery before it dies, while you have flexibility to hunt around for the best price, rather than risking an high price in an emergency.

Look after bodywork
Bodywork wears better with regular cleaning. In winter there is extra dirt, salt and grit sludge that sprays up from wet and muddy roads that should be washed of regularly. Look under the bonnet too for leaves that might cause blockages.

Avoid sticky door seals by coating with either a special spray made for the job, or Vaseline. Spray a little WD40 into locks too to prevent those icing up.

Can you see the road ahead?
Don’t try to force wipers to work if they’re frozen to the windscreen – it can damage the blades or even the wiper motor.

If wipers are leaving smears on the window, check for obvious damage and then give the blades and the window a wipe with a cloth soaked in white vinegar (it dissolves grease and oily residue from road spray).

Don’t scrimp on screenwash either – a more concentrated mix is less likely to freeze in the tank. And if the car is in for an MOT, frozen screenwash will cause the car to fail the test!

Take precautions against getting stranded
Even if you aren’t going far from home, these essentials could prove a worthwhile investment for keeping in the boot; a small shovel, a tow rope, a blanket or sleeping bag, a phone charger, a spare pair of sturdy boots and a few non-perishable snacks.

Always make sure you have plenty of fuel to allow for diversions around closed roads or, in the event you do get stuck, just so that you can keep the engine running to stay warm – of course that means that you need to make sure the heater is working!