Whether you love it or not, it’s time to prepare for winter. Driving your car on icy and wet roads can be especially challenging. You should ensure your battery and heater are in good working order and your windshield and wipers are in good condition. You want to make sure you get the best performance from your vehicle in the harsh winter weather and have a safe, smooth ride on each journey.
While there is no way to foresee winter driving challenges and eliminate them all, the tips in this post will help you make your car winter-ready and avoid some problems in the cold weather. We aim to help you drive safely and ensure your car remains in perfect working order this winter season.
During the winter, the coolant to water ratio should be 60/40. Aim to have the right mix in your radiator fluid to prevent it freezing in colder temperatures.
Is your car due for a full or interim service this winter? If so, it is likely to include an oil change. Make sure the engine oil you choose is appropriate for use in cold weather. The oil should have the correct viscosity. In winter, oil gets thicker as the temperature falls and if it is too thick, the engine will not be properly lubricated. Therefore it makes sense to have an oil change done well before winter starts to avoid damage to engine.
Lower temperatures in winter increase the demands on your engine, requiring more current from the battery to get the car started. Check if the battery is properly charged. Take your car to a garage to measure battery voltage and it will help determine if your car battery needs recharging. You will also need to check the battery fluid and all connections to your battery for cracks, loose fitting or corrosion.
If your car battery is more than 3 years old, it’s strongly recommended that you get it checked by an expert mechanic to determine its capacity for holding the charge. A well-running battery in good condition will help avoid any unwanted roadside battery breakdowns in winter.
If your wiper blades are damaged or not working well, you should replace them before winter begins. As a rule, wiper blades should normally be replaced annually. Top your windshield washer fluid and have a spare bottle in your car if planning a long trip in winter. You should be able to see clearly through your screen at all times.
It’s important to make sure your car’s heating system is working properly. The dashboard fan and heated rear window must also be checked to ensure adequate demisting of the windscreens and to reduce condensation on cold windows.
While fitting your car with special winter tyres is the best option, you can still make them ready for icy roads in winter without this added investment. Get the tread depth of tyres checked to ensure they will provide the necessary grip and control on icy roads. The tyre pressures should also be checked with the inflation in line with the manufacturer’s recommended guideline.
Cold weather can lower air pressure in tyres so it is wise to get air pressure checked at every 2 week throughout the cold season. Its also important to check the air pressure of your spare wheel so it is fit for purpose when actually needed. If your existing tyres have any cracks, damage or are worn out, get them replaced as soon as possible. If you frequently drive on icy roads during winter, getting winter tyres is the ideal choice.
Don’t forget to check all belts and hoses for wear and tear. Cold weather can potentially cause damage to them.
Ask your mechanic to check both front and rear lights to ensure they are working properly. On frosty days, make sure you clean all lights before starting your journey. Any broken lights should be replaced to ensure a safe drive.
Even though you have prepared your car for the cold weather, make sure you always carry an emergency kit in your car for all your journeys. It makes sense to be prepared for bad winter weather and poor road conditions. It is advisable to carry some water, a blanket, a small shovel, a first aid kit, gloves, winter boots, tyre changing equipment, a spare tyre, an ice scraper and door lock lubricant as a part of your winter emergency kit.