Brrrrrrrr! Yep it's pretty frigging cold at the moment and it's becoming more and more painful having to leave that warm, toasty bed every morning when it's still pitch black outside! The last thing you want to be doing is spending the last 5 minutes before you leave the house is to be frantically scraping away at the windscreen. It's no fun and it's only going to get worse and worse...
So you're a young driver...what can you do to ensure your car is getting the best treatment? Below are some things you should monitor closely if you want to avoid a breakdown and being late for work or college one day.
- The battery - If you're battery dies, and you haven't got leads or a portable jump start kit you're pretty much screwed. Car batteries get a bit of a pounding over the winter as you'll be more likely to drive with lights on and have you're heaters turned up full blast! It's very important to make sure that when leaving your car overnight it isn't using up any unnecessary power.
- Check your levels - If your car is thirsty and you are not giving it what it needs to keep going, you're probably going to do more damage the longer it's left without coolant or an oil top up. Although the weather is a lot colder, your engine can still overheat. Ensure your coolant is properly topped up with anti-freeze as well!
- Tyres - One of the most important factors of all is to check your tyres on a regular basis during the winter months. Driving on snowy or icy roads reduces the performance of your tyres massively as the rubber hardens in the cold, meaning they could lose their grip causing you to skid or even aqua plane! If you don't want to purchase winter tyres, make sure you check for signs of damage at least once a month, keep the pressure levels in them consistent and check the tread depth. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, you do not want anything less than 3mm as this also reduces performance!
- Windscreen wipers - Ever gone to let your window down on a cold morning only for it to get stuck? It's extremely annoying and can completely bust up your electrics. It's the same with your windscreen wipers. If they are frozen over the screen and you go to free them up you could potentially blow up the fuse which usually means your screen wash won't work either. Make sure you use a good screen wash designed for freezing conditions to avoid this, and ensure you de-ice your screen before turning the wiper blades on! One thing to remember is to never pour boiling water on it as the glass can shatter. See our previous blog on what will happen if you pour boiling water onto your windscreen.
- Headlights & indicators - When you're driving to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, you want to make sure you're visible to everyone on the road. Especially when it's foggy and the ability to see other drivers can be excessively difficult! Check your headlights, fog lights, indicators and brake lights more regularly. Alternatively, get someone to check them for you. Driving with a faulty or damaged bulb is actually illegal so don't take the risk!
Photo credit: John Brightly
So there's our tips for getting your car through the winter this year. If it makes life easier you could probably take your motor to your local garage and get them to carry out a mini service if you don't want to do all these checks yourself! Our good friends at Halfords even do a 5 point check on your car for free!
The joys of winter eh! For many it's the least favourable time of year but it's not all bad! Bring on the cups of hot coco, stews, cosying up on the settee in your woolly fleece and slippers, sledging, ice-skating and building snowmen are just some of the little perks! Compared to what some countries have to deal with this time of year...it could be a lot worse!