Winter driving tips

How to get your car winter ready

As autumn draws to an end, the time comes to give your vehicle a little winter TLC, to ensure smooth running and safe motoring as the weather
worsens.

Check your battery

Winter weather puts a lot of strain on your car, especially your battery. The cold weather reduces the batteries output, and top that off with the inevitable increase of heater and electric features used to help to keep you warm, or to melt the ice on your wing mirrors.

So if you have been experiencing a struggle in your car starting or your battery is more than 5 years old, it may be time for a change before the inclement weather sets in.

Make sure your antifreeze is topped up

Over time the antifreeze in your vehicle will become diluted from topping up with water throughout the year.  Before the first cold snap make sure the ratio of water to antifreeze in your vehicle is 50/50. There are few varieties of anti-freeze, and most importantly there are two main chemical breakdowns, organic acid technology (OAT) and Inorganic Additive Technology Antifreeze (IAT). Generally cars made after 1998 normally need antifreeze that uses silicate-free, OAT and earlier cars usually need antifreeze that isn’t OAT-based and that does contain silicate. Adding the wrong type and mixing them can cause a chemical reaction which causes them to gunk up, so make sure you have the right type. If you are in any doubt, contact your local garage and get them to check.

Add winter screen wash

Winter screen wash gives you a stronger clean to remove salt from your windscreen when you are driving and ensures your washer jets and tank don’t freeze when there is a frost. Frozen screenwash will expand and can cause the tank or hoses to crack, causing a fault that is time consuming and costly to repair.

Check your tyre tread and pressures

You may want to consider switching your tyres to a winter version, particularly if you are living in an area where roads are not regularly gritted or cleared. If you would prefer not to change your tyres, at least ensure that you have more than the minimum requirement of tread left on your tyres, which is 1.6mm, although during winter months it is best to have at least 3mm tread on each tyre.

Check your windscreen and bodywork

Make sure you have any chips in your windscreen repaired before the cold weather, as during a frost they can grow rapidly and crack the glass. The same goes for any paint chips in your vehicles bodywork, as salt from the road can attack these unprotected areas and leave you with a much bigger problem to fix.

Keep it clean

Keep your exterior lights clear of dirt, your windows and mirrors clean and wipe over your windscreen wipers regularly to ensure the clearest view possible, in potentially tricky driving conditions.

Be prepared

Travel with a few extra items in your car boot during the winter months, a blanket, torch, antifreeze and scraper. Also make sure your phone is fully charged in case of an emergency, although it goes without saying it shouldn’t be used whilst you are driving.

If in doubt, have a professional overhaul

Steve Spooner, owner of Bromley Car Repairs, an MOT centre in Bromley recommends that all vehicles are given a little TLC before the winter: “If you are not confident in undertaking any winter preparations yourself then take you vehicle to a local garage for advice, a winter check up, or service. It will give you the peace of mind that you will have trouble free motoring throughout the season.”