Summer is, sadly, officially over and it’s time to think about getting our cars ready for winter, including my beloved MGB GT. It’s so important to think about preparing your car in advance for the potentially harsh weather ahead. Commuting in winter can not only be uncomfortable, but also dangerous. Here are a few tips that are worth thinking about when getting your car winter ready.
Book your car in for a winter service
It’s really important to not only maintain your car with a valid MOT but also have it serviced at regular intervals. Or at least as often as the manufacturer recommends, and by a garage such as Calmac Tyres Autocentre * a family owned and run independent garage, if you’re in the Northampton area. As well as reducing your chances of breakdowns, your insurer may take this into account at renewal time too.
During winter, roads tend to be slippery – think ice, fallen leaves, the wrong kind of snow… So it makes sense to check your tyres are properly inflated. Your car’s manual will tell you the correct pressures for front and back tyres, which are sometimes different, like my MG. Driving with flat tyres isn’t just dangerous, it’s also a waste of fuel.
You should also check there’s sufficient tread left on your tyres so you have good road grip. (Google and YouTube have numerous tips on how to do this, something to do with a coin!) And this is something I need to address because it was an advisory on our Suzuki’s recent MOT. Last winter we were snowed in – literally, we couldn’t get off our drive! Because of this, I’m seriously considering investing in snow tyres as they’re designed to have better traction. And because Alan won’t buy me a 4×4… #firstworldproblems
Anti-freeze and coolant
If your car’s coolant systems aren’t at their recommended levels, overheating can leave your engine damaged and prone to corrosion. So it’s a good idea to make sure you top up with the right mixture of antifreeze and water before the weather gets too cold.
Cold weather significantly affects your battery and makes it harder to get to top performance. I don’t want to think about how many times I’ve gone out to a car to be greeted with a flat battery on a cold, wet morning. When you have a winter service, you can ask the garage to check the condition of your car’s battery at the same time.
If you can’t park your car in a garage, why not invest in a car cover instead? It really does help ward off the worst of the damp and frost – with the added bonus of saving time scraping ice off your windows in the morning too. Another top tip is to buy some jump lead cables, and make really good friends with your neighbours.
Do your windscreen wipers squeak as they wipe? They’re probably splitting, which is not great news when you’re driving in a downpour. Ask your garage to check and replace them if necessary and to check your defrost function is still working too. It may seem like something else to spend money on but having to continually wipe the inside of the glass while driving is not fun.
Oil, lights, brakes
Cold weather can affect the temperature of your engine, and this in turn will affect your car’s oil. As well as checking the level is topped up, it might be worth swapping to the right oil for cold weather conditions. Checking that all your lights are working (main, side, rear, fog) is also important. Not just so you can see where you’re going but so other road users can see you too. And it goes without saying that you should ensure your brakes are working properly. Stopping distances are that much greater in wet and icy conditions.
Winter driving tips
So there we have it, six tips on how to get your car winter ready. The RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) has some useful winter driving pointers and their top tip is simple: have your vehicle fully serviced before winter starts. Being well prepared for winter not only means your car will be in a good condition, but it also helps to ensure your safety, which is something we all want. Whether you drive a 4×4 or not 😉
What are your top tips for winter car care?
* This is a sponsored post.