As temperatures begin to drop, it’s essential to ensure that your vehicle is well-prepared to tackle the challenges brought by cold weather. From icy roads to freezing temperatures, taking the time to winterise your car can help prevent breakdowns and ensure a safer driving experience. In this guide, we’ll cover key aspects of winter car care, including fuel, oil, tyres, coolant, screenwash, electrics, and a basic winter car kit.
Cold temperatures can affect your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, so it’s crucial to keep your tank adequately filled before embarking on your journey. It’s advisable to refuel before starting your trip. Cars tend to consume more fuel in congested traffic/frequent stop-and-go conditions, which are often common especially in winter. Additionally, unexpected weather changes may prolong your journey, so ensure you have enough fuel in case of unexpected delays.
Inspect your oil level by using the dipstick and top up if needed. If you are unfamiliar with this process, check your handbook and ensure you use the appropriate oil. Identify the oil cap featuring the oil can symbol and pour in the correct quantity. Ensure the cap is securely replaced and exercise caution to not overfill, as it may lead to complications.
Examine your tyres regularly for proper tread depth and inflation. Keep in mind that properly maintained tyres are essential for providing the necessary traction and grip on icy or wet surfaces. The legal tread depth for car tyres in the UK and Europe is 1.6mm, but ensure you are checking your tyres regularly, especially before embarking on extended journeys. In icy or wet conditions, we recommend a minimum of 2mm tread depth. The recommended tyre pressure for your car can be located in either the car handbook or on the driver’s door.
Maintaining the right coolant-to-water ratio is crucial for regulating your engines temperature. It’s advised to check your coolant level and add more if necessary. Ensure to check this only when the engine is cool to prevent the risk of burning yourself. Additionally, check for any coolant leaks or drops in coolant levels and address them promptly.
Cold weather can strain your vehicle’s battery, so have it tested to ensure it’s in good condition. Clean the battery terminals and connections, and if your battery is more than a few years old, consider replacing it before winter sets in. Check that all lights, including headlights and brake lights, are working properly.
Ensure that you top up your screenwash with a solution effective in temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius. This plays a crucial role in preventing the windscreen from icing up and accumulating dirt, especially the salt and grit from the roads which can impair visibility. Keep the reservoir full and carry an extra supply in your trunk for top ups during long drives. Make sure that your windshield wipers are effective and replace them if necessary.
Basic Winter Car Kit
Assemble a basic winter car kit to ensure you’re prepared for unexpected situations. This essential kit should encompass a variety of items to address diverse challenges. Include a warm blanket to provide insulation in case of breakdowns or prolonged exposure to cold weather. Equip yourself with a reliable torch and spare batteries to navigate through dark situations. An ice scraper and snow shovel will prove invaluable in clearing snow and ice from your vehicle and its surroundings.
Don’t forget to pack sunglasses to counteract the low winter sun. Jumper cables are also essential for jump starting your vehicle or assisting others in need. Prioritise safety with a well-stocked first aid kit that includes medical supplies for potential emergencies.
Lastly, include non-perishable snacks to sustain yourself in case of unexpected delays or emergencies. Consider items that provide sustenance and energy, ensuring you have a convenient source of nourishment during challenging situations. By assembling this winter car kit, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the uncertainties that winter weather may bring.
Winterising your vehicle is a proactive approach to ensure your safety and the reliability of your car during the colder months. By addressing fuel, oil, tyres, electrics, screenwash, and having a basic winter car kit on hand, you can navigate the winter roads with confidence. If you need to read about Winter Driving Safety click on this link Autumn and Winter Driving Safety: Navigating Challenges and Staying Prepared – AutoAid Breakdown for advice. Taking time to prepare your vehicle now can save you from potential headaches and keep you and your passengers safe on the winter roads.