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Home » Blog » How to keep the right winter equipment in your car

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This time of year can be especially harsh on your car.

The colder weather brings with it relentless snow and ice, sub-zero temperatures and grit and salt coating our roads. New cars are extremely reliable and efficient, but every car still needs protecting against the elements. It's important to keep yourself safe too, by being prepared for any winter eventuality.

To look after both you and your car, we take a look at some essential in-car equipment. If you're unsure whether your car is fully protected, you can book a complimentary winter health check at Stratstone to keep your car in top condition.

Vehicle Health Check

-Ice Scraper and de-icer: In the event your windows freeze over again whilst stationary. You shouldn't rely solely on your windscreen heaters as if the engine has a problem they won't be working.

-Blanket: Essential for keeping warm in any kind of emergency.

-Snow Shovel: If you frequent quieter B roads, this could prove very useful for moving deep snow that you fear your vehicle may get stuck in. This is also a great way to clear the way if snow has fallen around your vehicle when it's parked. 

-Salt or sand: Great for helping your car to regain traction on slippery snow or ice.

-First Aid Kit: Not just for winter! This is a useful addition all year round and can come as standard with some vehicles.

-Torch: Really useful on those dark winter evenings and mornings.

-Reflective Jacket: If you're stranded in the road (or hard shoulder) and need to leave your vehicle, this safety wear is essential for being seen.

-Tow Rope: Just as useful for helping someone else out as for yourself.

-Jump Leads: Batteries are prone to dying in the winter, so a set of jump leads is a must.

-Screen Wash: Important to keep your windscreen clear for optimum visibility during poor weather.

-Waterproof Coat: Helps to keep your clothes dry, and keep you warm.

-Non-Perishable Food Supplies: Bottled water and energy bars.

-Mobile Phone Charger: It's important to keep your phone charged in case of an emergency.

-Map: In the event that your route is diverted or you get lost.

-Sunglasses: Protects against glare from low winter sun.

With your equipment sorted, find out how to keep your car protected and performing to its best during the colder months:

Clean Machine

The grit that keeps our most treacherous roads safe in the winter is a driver's best friend, but unfortunately our own car's worst enemy. On one hand it provides traction, melting overnight snow and ice so that we're still able to make essential journeys. On the other, the grit contains high levels of salt, which over time can become highly corrosive to a car's bodywork if not dealt with properly.

It's tempting not to get the sponge and polish out when the weather is freezing cold, and grey clouds loom overhead. However, by washing your car regularly through winter you can help to protect your car's bodywork. If you use a hand car-wash, ensure that the underside of the car is cleaned with a jet wash to get rid of any stubborn salt and avoid corrosion.

Cars tend to accumulate dirt during the winter months anyway, and this is a great reason to keep them clean. 

Tread Carefully

A combination of slippery surfaces and poor visibility means winter is a dangerous time of year to be driving. The best way to prepare yourself is to look over your tyres, which come under a lot of strain during the winter months. If your tread is especially low, it might be worth getting your tyres replaced. If tread is below the 1.6mm legal limit, then it is essential these are replaced as roads become more demanding on tyres over winter. We recommend that tyres are changed at 3mm of tread depth. As well as a good fuel-saving method, making sure your tyre pressures are at the optimum level can really impact on the level of your grip too.

Another option is to get a set of winter tyres fitted, which offer improved traction and resistance to harsh conditions. You can enquire about fitting winter tyres at your nearest Stratstone Dealership.

Light the way

As the nights draw in, be sure to also check your lights.  As winter brings with it some of the shortest days in the calendar, you might need your headlights on 24/7, so it's best to check and replace any bulbs that aren't working. This includes your fog lights, brake lights, head lights, indicators, and reversing lights.

Battered Batteries

During winter, battery-related issues are the single biggest cause of breakdown call-outs across the UK. Cold weather drastically reduces their efficiency, and heavy use of heaters, headlights and wipers through the winter months can really affect their performance. Unless run for lengthy periods, this can often result in flat batteries.

If your car has been sat for an extended period of time, then the battery might need charging before you can set off. Often dead batteries require just a quick jump start, but a consistent problem might mean that your battery is nearing the end of its life and might need replacing. If it does, it's best to do this before the harsh weather sets in.

Check your fluids

- Coolant: Coolant is pressurised in the engine system, and levels shouldn't really drop over time. However, it is worth checking now and again just to ensure that there is no damage being done to the engine. It's easy to check how much fluid is in the container, which normally has a MIN and MAX level which you can compare the liquid against. It's important to make sure there is sufficient antifreeze in here too to prevent the radiator freezing. You can check levels in your handbook.

- Screen wash: The concentrations for screen wash change by season, and thus it is important to top this up before winter. A good quality wash which protects down to -10C is ideal, as this will prevent your washer pump from freezing when it gets really cold. Generally a higher ratio of screen wash to water is used in colder periods, though this varies by product.

- Oil: Oil needs to be checked regularly all-year round, and the winter period is no different. Check your oil levels are within safe operating limits to keep your engine happy. 

Brake Concentration

Stopping distances are also vastly increased during winter, especially on icy and snow-filled roads. That's why it's essential to make sure that your brakes are in full working order. If in any doubt then have your brakes checked at your nearest Stratstone garage.

Alternatively, if you're looking to upgrade your vehicle this winter then check out our range of Premium Used Vehicles.