Nine ways to get your car ready for winter

Winter is on its way – and that means we all face the increased threat of treacherous driving conditions.
Breakdowns are also more common in the cold weather. So this is the time to give your car the once over, before the temperature dips too low. Here’s out top tips to get your car geared up for winter…

1. Check your battery

Battery problems are the most common reason for call-outs to breakdown services - and is it any wonder when heaters, lights, entertainment systems and windscreen wipers all put a strain on the battery? The average lifespan of a battery is five years, so it might be worth buying a replacement if your battery is old. Also, try to lessen the burden on the battery by turning off wipers, lights and heaters whenever possible and practical.

2. Change your tyres

Tyres should have a minimum 3mm of tread during the winter months to maintain their grip on the road.
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You might even consider switching to winter or all-season tyres, which are designed to handle the road better during cold and wet conditions.

3. Pack an emergency car kit

An emergency car kit can be a lifesaver during a winter breakdown. Ideally, it should include a blanket, food, water, torch and phone charger. It’s also a good idea to carry a shovel, some jump leads and a tow rope in your vehicle, just in case.

4. Keep your cool

It’s important to check the car’s cooling system in order to protect the engine when the temperature plummets. The coolant in the system is basically diluted anti-freeze, and most cars need a 50-50 mix of water and anti-freeze during the winter. It’s quite easy to check the level of coolant in the system, but it’s more difficult to make sure the anti-freeze is the right type and concentration. The handbook will give you the relevant information, but take the car to a garage if you are in any doubt.

5. Top-up your screen wash

The car windscreen is likely to get dirty in the winter, especially on a long journey, so top up the screen wash regularly. If your screen wash freezes, don’t just keep pushing the pump button – you could blow a fuse and end up with a bigger problem that takes time and money to put right.

6. Inspect your wiper blades

Windscreen wipers won’t be effective if the blades are damaged or corroded. Regular checks are therefore essential. Winter weather reduces visibility, so you don’t want dodgy wipers to make a bad situation even worse. Also, remember to switch off the car with the wipers in park position. If not, they could stick to the windscreen in icy conditions.

7. Lubricate locks and door seals

Doors and locks can stick in very cold temperatures. A squirt of WD40 can help. Or you could smear some Vaseline around the locks and door seals.

8. Check exterior lights

We don’t often check that the exterior lights are working, but it’s essential in winter when the nights draw in.

9. Fill up with fuel

Winter journeys can be unpredictable, so make sure you have plenty of fuel in the tank before you set off. Don’t risk running short – an unexpected diversion or a prolonged stay in a traffic jam could leave you at risk of running dry, miles from home and at the mercy of the elements.
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Have I missed anything? What are your tips and techniques for safe and trouble-free driving through the winter months? Let us know in the box below…

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