Winter is by far the most treacherous season for drivers. Freezing temperatures and decreased visibility only add to the tricky driving conditions we have to face come the winter months.
Getting your car ready for winter is key. Our busy lifestyles seem to be the excuse for not properly preparing ourselves, and our cars. However, just a few simple steps can make winter hassle free for the in-the-know motorist. Discover our top winter car maintenance tips below for drivers, which could help you avoid unpleasant situations we see far too often come this time of year.
Preparing your car for winter checklist
In an age where the modern car can pretty much do anything, we sometimes take it for granted that a car can sort itself out during winter. To a degree, modern cars do a pretty good job of keeping us safe and sound. Heated windscreens, mirrors, washer jets, steering wheels and seats can make the winter months somewhat hassle free for drivers. However, there is still a lot of people who still fail to prepare - as the saying goes; 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail'.
A winter check is a great place to start. This will check areas of the car which are vital for safe winter driving such as;
- Inspection of all tyres - including spare (1.6mm is the minimum tread depth, we would recommend keeping them above 3mm for added grip in winters harsher conditions).
- Battery power test - It is important to make sure your battery is in top condition, due to the increased use of blowers, heating, lights etc. in winter.
- Coolant check - This should be mixed 50/50 in winter with antifreeze, to ensure the coolant does not freeze, resulting in the car overheating and an unnecessary repair bill.
- Windscreen wipers inspection - It may sound obvious, but it's important to have a good set of wipers and where possible a good rear wiper due to increased usage in winter months.
- Check all lights and bulbs - With decreased visibility, and more time driving that require headlights, it's important to check on a regular basis all lights on the vehicle work. It's also good practice to keep a spare bulb set in the car too.
- Oil level check - With increased strain on the engine, ensuring the car isn't using oil is a sure way of ensuring you don't break down by starving the engine of oil.
Front and Rear-Wheel Drive cars
Getting a car serviced before winter is also good practice, as it will mean the car in is optimum condition, with all levels checked, topped up and adjusted if necessary.
Four-wheel drive cars will become worth their weight in gold come the winter months, due to their enhanced traction. Front-wheel drive cars tend to be quite good in snowy conditions as the engine over the front wheels means traction on the front end is ample and suitable in conditions where the car is likely to become stuck.
Owners of rear-wheel drive cars, particularly certain versions of BMW and Mercedes-Benz may want to add weight within the boot, to enable more traction given to the rear-wheels if conditions include snow. Another tip would be to use snow chains on the rear-wheels, during heavy snowfall only.
Weight within the boot over winter will increase anyway, if you prepare correctly. This includes carrying a variety of items which will ensure if you do encounter a problem, such a breakdown or becoming stuck, you will have the necessary means to find a solution.
Items to carry within the boot, as part of a car winter survival kit should include;
- Shovel - Useful if the vehicle becomes stuck in snow, mud etc.
- Torch - Simple, but poor visibility and areas which are not well lit will mean a torch is highly useful. Some of the latest smartphones have a built-in torch feature too.
- Hi-Vis - Again, winter is all about being safe and being seen. Therefore, this is a simple yet effective solution if you happen to be broken down at the side of an unlit road.
- Blanket - Useful for keeping warm, as for safety reasons you must be out of the car if broken down on a motorway/dual carriageway.
- Scraper - Helps clear ice from windscreens in wintery conditions.
- Screenwash - Always handy to carry spare in case you run out. Alternatively, top-up regularly, depending on how often you use your car.
Following these steps will ensure your car is prepared for winter in the best way possible. You may not need most items mentioned, but the saying goes - 'better to be safe than sorry'.
Visit your nearest Stratstone dealer for a vehicle health check.