Throughout winter, motorists can face challenging and dangerous driving conditions – from torrential rain and fog to heavy snow and ice. With the colder months now upon us, you should ensure that your car is in good running condition to help reduce your chances of breaking down.
So, whether you’re an experienced driver used to the changing seasons, or you’ve just passed your test, here’s how to prepare your car for whatever weather this winter brings.
Top up the fluids
Although the weather in early autumn can still be relatively mild, it is not long before temperatures start to drop to below freezing.
Maintaining your vehicle’s fluid levels should be done regularly throughout the year, but especially in the colder months to ensure it starts on frosty nights and mornings. Top up your vehicle’s coolant with an anti-freeze mix – it’s also worth adding a screen wash that contains a degree of anti-freeze to help keep your windscreens clear whilst driving in cold conditions.
Don’t forget to also check your car’s oil level – although most car models will also have a warning light that turns on if oil levels are too low.
Look after your tyres
Damp roads covered in wet, fallen leaves can result in a very slippery road surface, making the chances of a skid more likely during autumn and winter months. There are a few key ways to ensure your car maintains a good grip on the surface of the road. The first is to make sure that your tyres remain topped up with the correct air pressure.
The other is to ensure that your car’s tyres have enough tread. Experts advise that the legal-minimum depth of 1.6mm for a car tyre’s tread is not enough, and it should be at least 3mm.
A quick check is to slot a 20p piece in the main tread channels. If any of the coin’s outer band is showing, a change is needed.
Check your lights
With an increased risk of fog at this time of year, and the nights drawing in fast, maximising the visibility of your car on the road is crucial – not only for your safety but for your fellow drivers too. This makes it vitally important to check your car’s lights are working and the dimmer switch functioning correctly.
Whilst your vehicle is stationary, check the headlights are working – on both full beam and dip – as well as your braking, hazard, and reverse lights.
Protect the bodywork
Road salt is great for keeping the road in a better driving condition during winter, but it’s corrosive and tough on our vehicles’ exteriors.
Wash your car frequently throughout winter to help reduce the build-up of dirt and grime. This will help preserve the metal and paintwork during winter. Applying a layer of wax after washing will also help provide a protective layer over the paint.
Consider getting your car serviced
Although having your vehicle serviced is not a legal requirement in the same way an MOT is, it’s recommended to have one annually or every 12,000 miles – whichever is sooner.
A full service usually includes checking the lights, tyres, braking and steering operations. The garage will also re-fill the engine oil, hydraulic fluid and coolant levels – which would save you having to complete these checks and fluid top-ups yourself.
An average service costs between £140 – £180.