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A Guide to Winter Car Care

Date: Fri 15th December 2017   |   Author: L Blake

Why is winter car care important?

During the winter months road conditions can make driving treacherous, whilst freezing temperatures can put your car’s mechanics under extra pressure. Adopting a winter car care routine will help you stay safe on the roads in the winter months and ensure your car starts when you need it to. This helpful guide will tell you all you need to know about winter car care and winter driving safety.

Winter Car 

If your car service doesn’t fall within the winter months, you can always request a winter car service to ensure your vehicle is protected against the change in weather. Winter can bring hazardous driving conditions. So it is important for your winter driving safety and the safety of your passengers, that your car is equipped for any hazardous conditions that winter may bring. A winter car service is helpful in highlighting any underlying issues with your vehicle that may have worsened during the winter.

The Tyre Tread

Another important aspect of winter car care is checking your vehicle’s tyre tread. Tyres are the only part of your car that is in contact with the road, so it’s important that they offer grip in winter conditions. The tread is what disperses water and snow from the roads and prevents you from aquaplaning. The minimum tread depth on tyres required by law is 1.6mm. However, it is recommended that vehicles have no less than 2mm and preferably 3mm for winter driving. The deeper the tread, the less likely you are to lose control of your vehicle in wet, icy or snowy conditions.

The Oil

Firstly, an important step of your winter car care is to check your car oil. In winter, car oil can become thick and prevent your car from starting. As a result of this, you’ll notice during your winter driving that lower gears can become harder to engage until the engine begins to warm up. Therefore it is important to frequently check your vehicle oil and it’s also recommended to completely change the oil and filter every 3000-5000 miles.

The Washer fluid

The next step in your winter car care is to check the washer fluid. Although it is important to keep your washer fluid topped up all year round. When driving in winter it is common for your windscreen to become dirty, restricting your view. Therefore, in winter, washer fluid is vital to keep salt and grit off your windscreen. So not only is it illegal to drive with an empty bottle, it’s also very dangerous! You can add washer fluid to your vehicle, by opening the bonnet, locating the washer fluid bottle and adding the liquid until you reach the fill line.

The Tyre Pressure

Next in your winter car care checklist is to check your tyre pressure. It is a legal requirement for your tyres to have the correct amount of tyre pressure. However, this is even more crucial in winter, as a low tyre pressure may reduce grip and lead to an accident. Therefore, it is recommended you check your tyre pressure on a weekly basis.  You can check this figure by looking in your owner’s guide or on a sticker located in the driver’s door.  

Car Emergency Kit

As part of your winter car care, it is essential to prepare an emergency kit.  This should include the following:

  •  A mobile phone and charger
  •  A hazard warning triangle
  •  Hi-visibility vest
  •  A first aid kit
  •  De-icer and a scraper
  •  A shovel
  •  A tow rope
  •  Wellington boots
  •  A torch
  •  Warm clothes
  •  Food and drink

The Battery

The most common cause of winter breakdowns is a flat battery. Car batteries typically last around five years. Heaters, lights and other electrical components, such as phone chargers and sat-navs, all collectively have an effect on the battery. The extra strain from heaters in winter can cause your battery to fail. Therefore, it is important to only use electrical components if completely necessary. For example, you can switch the heater off once the car has cleared.

Furthermore, leaving long periods between driving your vehicle in winter also has an effect on the battery. The cold weather can prevent your battery from starting. Therefore, it is important to ensure your vehicle is driven regularly.

The Radiator

Antifreeze is vital for keeping your engine at the correct temperature. By adding antifreeze to your water your car will be protected from temperatures as low as -37 degrees Celsius, preventing unnecessary damage during the winter months.

You should regularly make sure that your vehicle’s antifreeze levels are between the maximum and minimum. This will help avoid potential damage to the engine or radiators, which will be much more expensive to fix than the couple of pounds it would cost to buy antifreeze.

From reading this guide, you should now be aware of the basics of winter car care. If you’re still unsure, make sure to pop into your local garage for a winter car service. AutoProtect has plenty more helpful guides on understanding your vehicle, and how to properly look after it.

Image of car driving on snowy winter lane