Preparing your car for winter
on 05 December 2016
As the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, it's a good idea to prepare your car for winter. Here's our tips for getting your car ready.
We've all heard those stories of people being stuck on the motorway for hours whilst an accident is cleared, or having to wait for the recovery truck to collect your car after a breakdown. So, it's useful to be prepared for a cold evening stuck in your car! You should have the following items in the boot or the cabin to make your wait more safe and comfortable:
- Warm clothes: Hat, gloves, scarf, coat.
- High viz jacket
- Torch (fully charged)
- Warning triangle
- Ice scraper and de-icer.
- First aid kit.
- Mobile phone and the correct charging cable for the socket in your car, or a portable battery pack
- Food: Stuff that can live in your car, like biscuits and cereal bars are good.
- Water for drinking.
Antifreeze is used to stop the car's cooling system from freezing, and the engine from overheating. As the weather gets colder, it's important that you check the levels of antifreeze in your car. When the engine is cold, open the cap on the coolant reservoir (this will be under your bonnet - check your car's handbook to find out exactly where), and make sure that your coolant is between the maximum and minimum levels that are marked on the inside of the reservoir. If it's not, top it up with coolant that contains antifreeze, which you can get from most motoring shops.
Whilst you're in there, check how effective your antifreeze is, as it can reduce in effectiveness over time. To do this you need an antifreeze tester, like this one: http://www.halfords.com/motoring/engine-oils-fluids/antifreeze/halfords-antifreeze-tester-meg
It only takes a few minutes to do, and the tester is reusable.
Windscreen washer fluid is used all year round, but more frequently in winter because of the salt and grit on the roads, damp weather and freezing frosts. Make sure your washer fluid is topped up, and that it's a wash which doesn’t freeze (it'll tell you this on the bottle). Pour the fluid in using a funnel, so that you don't spill it on your engine.
Roads get icy over winter. To make sure you've got the best grip, check your tyre tread for wear. The more worn your tyres are, the less efficient they are at gripping frosty roads. There is a legal requirement for tyre tread to be at least 1.6mm deep.
If you live in a particularly snowy, remote area, you should look into installing winter tyres. These are made to have maximum grip on icy roads with their tread pattern and rubber compound.
Winter car check
If you're concerned about the suitability of your car this winter, many garages will offer a winter car check which cost very little. Some even offer the check for free!