With winter approaching, now is the ideal time to give your car some extra attention to ensure you have a hassle free season of safe and reliable motoring.
Anti-freeze stops the coolant in your engine from freezing. If coolant is unable to circulate around your engine it will overheat, resulting in a breakdown. Make sure you top up using the correct concentration of anti-freeze.
Throughout winter your car’s battery is put under extra load; heated windows, heaters and lights all put your battery under pressure. Check that the battery’s terminals are free from corrosion and avoid using unnecessary electrical features in your car early in your journey. If you do not use your car regularly, it is a good idea to keep your battery topped up with charge, ensuring it is able to perform when you do need to venture out.
Your brakes are one of the most important safety features of your car and deserve year round consideration. Check that your brakes are in good condition and look out for any warning messages on your dashboard; many modern cars have anti-locking brakes and it is important that the system functions correctly, especially during icy conditions.
When driving through standing water your brakes will become extremely wet, reducing their stopping power. It is a good idea to gently apply your brakes when you are clear of the water and when it is safe to do so; ensuring your brakes are returned to their full effectiveness.
This article discusses when to change car brakes.
Many modern cars now have air-conditioning, which is great for removing moisture from the inside of your car’s windows. However, it is important your air-conditioning is properly maintained to keep it functioning as it should. In all cars, you should ensure your heating vents are directed towards the windows. Temporarily closing any central vents will increase the warm air flow to the windows, helping remove ice and moisture more efficiently.
LIGHTS & VISIBILITY
It is an offence to drive with loose snow, or ice, still on your car; snow suddenly dislodging and blocking the driver’s view can cause serious accidents. Clear your car of snow thoroughly, concentrating on the roof, bonnet and boot lid. It is also an offence to drive a car with an overly dirty registration plate – other road users must always be able to easily read your plates.
You must also ensure all your lights are clear of snow, dirt or excessive grit.
You should regularly check your car’s oil level as running too low can cause irreparable damage. Refer to your car manufacturer’s handbook to check the location of the oil dipstick and which oil you should buy.
You should check your radiator’s anti-freeze level at the beginning of each winter season, ensuring it is above the ‘minimum’ level. Many car manufacturers use long life solutions and it is not recommended you mix in off-the-shelf solution without first checking with your dealership.
A minimum of 3mm tread depth is recommended for safe winter driving, even though the minimum required by law is 1.6mm. All tyres have tyre wear indicators. If you can rub your finger over the tyre wear indicator into the main tread body of the tyre, you are at the limit.
If your budget permits, consider fitting winter tyres designed specifically for winter conditions. These tyres will improve car control in poor driving conditions.
Keeping a regular check on your tyre pressure (the amount of air in the tyre) is also crucial. Check your car manufacturer’s handbook (some cars have instructions on the inside of the driver’s door) to determine the correct pressure and keep your tyres at that level.
You can find a great >guide to car tyres on Which? here.
Always ensure your windscreen is completely clear of ice and snow before you leave on your journey. It is an offence to drive with restricted vision.
Always keep an ice-scrapper in your car and allow for additional time to clear your windscreen before commencing your journey.
Windscreen cracked or chipped? Fix it straight away – visit www.ShatterScreen.co.uk to get a quote on windscreen repair or replacement.
WINDSCREEN WASH & WIPERS
It is an offence to drive a vehicle without windscreen wash. You should ensure you have a plentiful supply to keep your windscreen clear of dirt and grit (you can buy ready-mixed solution and keep a full container in your car during the winter).
You should also check your windscreen wipers for damage as damaged wipers will not deal effectively with rain and snowfall. Damaged wipers should be replaced.
These handy tips have been brought to you by experienced professionals at Shatterscreen.