How to prepare your car for winter

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Posted by Chloe Martell on 12 November 2015

Temperatures dropping, snow falling, ice, hail – whatever weather this winter will bring, we can almost guarantee it will be pretty harsh and this means it will take its toll on our cars, too. Before the winter weather arrives, here are our top car maintenance tips.

1. Top up your engine coolant with anti-freeze

Even in the cold weather, your engine can still get hot! You need to make sure that it’s constantly topped up with antifreeze!

2. Check your tyres

Checking your tread depth and overall tyre conditions is essential all year round, but especially in winter as your tyres help to control your steering and braking which can be difficult in cold weather conditions as it is. If you can afford to, you can also look into getting winter tyres fitted to your car – giving you better grip in snow and ice.

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3. Check your lights

Winter weather means less sunlight, which means you’ll be using your car lights more often throughout the day. Spend some time checking they all work, and getting some spare bulbs to carry around with you. If you are caught by police with headlights that don’t work – you could be given a Fixed Penalty Notice and could incur 3 penalty points.

4. The battery  

If your battery dies, and you haven't got leads or a portable jump start kit then you’ll find yourself in a bit of a pickle, and not going very far. Car batteries get a bit of a pounding over the winter as you'll be more likely to drive with lights on and have your 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, so turn off your lights inside and out.

5. Get a winter breakdown kit

Torch, blankets, snacks, screenwash, hi-vis vest – these are just some of the things you’ll need to keep in your car during the winter. Whilst we hope the above tips will prevent you from breaking down, you can never be too careful. These will also help if there are traffic disruptions or you’re delayed in extreme weather conditions.

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6. Frozen 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.

Remembering to turn off your wiper blades each time you stop the car is important, too! You may be fighting off rain one day, and facing ice the next. If you don’t turn the wipers off when you’ve finished your journey, they’ll come straight back on when you turn on the ignition.

7. Get a car service

It’s a great idea to get your car serviced before the winter weather arrives as the cold weather can take its toll on many parts of your car – like your battery. Using your lights, heater and blower all used extra battery power, so knowing your battery is in good condition will be a weight off of your shoulders. They’ll also check the other important parts of your car, too – checking your tyres and lights too.

There are other important areas of checking your car too such as your brakes, fan belt, and heater, but getting a full service means all of this will be checked. The one thing you can make sure you keep on top of is the amount of fuel that is in your car. It’s wise to keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel in your car at all times in case you’re caught up in an unexpected delay.