Winter is coming, and it’s important that your vehicle is prepared for the cooler weather. Data from AXA shows that problems like non-starting and engine cut-outs are far more likely during winter than summer (by 18% and 27% respectively), making preparation essential.
Luckily, preparing your car for winter isn’t particularly difficult. From charging up your vehicle’s battery to double-checking your tyres, making sure your car is ready for winter temperatures is often far easier than most drivers anticipate.
Ready to start? Below, we’ve listed seven steps for you to take before winter kicks into gear to keep your car safe, secure and breakdown-free this season.
Check, charge and (if required) change the battery
Battery problems are far more common during winter, with 51% more dead batteries reported by car owners during the cold months of winter than during spring, summer or autumn.
To avoid battery issues during winter, it’s important to check, charge and change. Start with a quick check of your battery using a voltmeter. If it’s producing the right amount of power, there’s nothing to worry about; if not, it’s worth replacing.
Don’t have a voltmeter at home? No problem. Most local garages can check your car battery for you in a matter of minutes and provide helpful advice on whether or not it’s worth replacing.
Top up your car’s antifreeze levels
During winter, cooler temperatures can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s coolant system, causing the liquids inside your car’s radiator to freeze, heat and expand. Over time, this can stop your car from performing as it should and even lead to long-term engine and component damage.
The key to preventing temperature-related coolant problems is antifreeze. Top up your vehicle’s coolant system with antifreeze (follow the instructions on the packaging) and you’ll prevent scale buildup while avoiding embarrassing and frustrating winter breakdowns.
Check (and refill, if required) the screen wash
Rain, ice, dirt and mud can all take their toll on your car’s windscreen during winter, making it more important than ever to keep your vehicle’s screen wash levels optimal.
Screen wash helps your car’s windscreen wipers do their job properly, making it easier to wipe away everything from mud and dirt to ice. Without screen wash, it’s easier for mud, dirt and ice to stick to your windscreen, reducing visibility and wearing away at your car’s components.
Checking and refilling your screen wash levels is a simple process. Most cars use a screenwash bottle located just under the bonnet; fill it up to the marked line to give your car the screen liquid it needs for effective cleaning during winter.
Frozen windshield? Clear it up with a little heat
Frozen water on your windshield can seem like a winter annoyance, but it’s a surprisingly easy problem to solve.
Instead of pouring hot water on your windscreen (which can damage the glass due to a sudden change in temperature) or wiping the ice off manually (which can badly scratch your windscreen and reduce visibility), just turn up the temperature in your car.
After a few minutes, the combination of a warm cabin and your car’s screen heaters will quickly melt the ice away, giving you perfect visibility without the risk of any damage to your windscreen.
Check your tyre tread, condition and pressure
Ice, dirt, gravel and mud are all common on the roads during winter, making it essential that your tyres are in good condition. From ice slips to aquaplaning, poor quality tyres increase the risk of numerous common accidents during the cool, icy months of winter.
Before the temperatures really start to drop, spend a few minutes carefully inspecting your car’s tyres. Check that they’re inflated to the correct temperature and review that the tread meets the legal minimum requirements.
Not sure how to check your tyre tread? Pop into your local garage and the staff can quickly and easily let you know if it’s time to replace your tyres. If your tyres are running flat, they’ll also be able to top them up to the right pressure level.
Keep yourself prepared with a winter repair kit
While preparation can help prevent most winter breakdowns, it can’t prevent them all. Since it’s far more common for your car to break down during winter than summer, it’s important that you have a repair kit ready in the event that your car runs into problems.
A good winter repair kit should include some jumper leads for dealing with battery issues, a jack and tyre iron for changing flat or damaged tyres, a torch, mini shovel (if you live in a snowy area) and small containers of antifreeze, screen wash and oil.
It’s also worth keeping a small first aid kit, blanket, emergency warning triangle and USB phone charger inside your vehicle. While most drivers won’t ever need them, a good set of emergency items can make all the difference in a stressful situation.
Ask the professionals to check your car
Most of the time, it’s easy to prepare your vehicle for winter on your own. However, it’s worth booking your car in for a professional winter service every other season to make sure you’re fully prepared for the cooler weather and rougher roads.
Your local garage or dealership will be happy to provide a winter service for your car, usually at a competitive price. If you use your vehicle often during winter, it’s worth the money for the extra peace of mind and confidence.