The colder seasons bring greater challenges for vehicles, with sharp increases in breakdowns. Performing key winter car prep is one way to safeguard against such a breakdown – and these are our ten tips for winterising your car.

Winter car prep: 10 things to check

Battery

Checking your vehicle’s battery is the most important part of winter car prep. The RAC reports dealing with over 400,000 battery-related faults every winter, so doing your due diligence in advance will help to prevent your vehicle making this list.

Cold temperatures and higher usage of elements like your car lights, heater and blower all strain a car’s battery, making it harder for the engine to turn over.

Car batteries have a standard life of five years. If yours is struggling to power your car even in warmer temperatures, it probably needs changing.

Tyres

Having tyres in good condition is vital year-round, but it’s also the next most critical step in winter car prep after checking your battery.

The legal minimum tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm, but it’s worth upgrading to winter tyres during colder months, which have a greater depth of 3mm and offer more traction and grip.

Check your tyre pressure too, as this is what keeps the tyres connected to the road, which is critical during icier periods.

Antifreeze

Antifreeze keeps the water in your vehicle from freezing over, which is vital in colder months. Without it, you can end up with either a frozen engine or an overheated vehicle.

Although a car’s coolant is a sealed system, it’s nonetheless worth checking as part of winter car prep. Use an antifreeze tester, which are widely available at garages, in order to check how effective your antifreeze is, and top it up if your levels are looking low.

Windscreen wipers

You need your car’s windscreen wipers to be up to scratch in the cold.

Run your finger along your windscreen wipers to check that there aren’t any tears, as these will reduce the efficacy of your screen wash. If your wipers get frozen to your windscreen, use either de-icer or warm water – never boiling water! – in order to detach them. Don’t try to operate your car if the wipers are frozen to the windscreen, as you may end up blowing a fuse.

Screen wash

During the winter, there’s more wet weather, which results in more dirt and road salt hitting your wind screen.

Ensure that you have enough screen wash available – and that it is effective in lower temperatures and won’t freeze over. This will keep your wind screen clear, otherwise you risk accidents if you drive with grubby glass.

Lights

Your headlights are how you see and can be seen, especially on dark winter nights. They often get dirtier during the colder months, so take care to clean and check your lights regularly in order to prevent this build up.

It’s wise to carry spare bulbs if you can, and to be comfortable with changing them, too.

Carry an emergency kit

It’s wise to carry an emergency winter kit in your car during colder seasons. Having a bag containing items like a high-vis vest, a shovel, tow rope, torch, de-icer, hazard warning triangle, and first aid kit is sensible.

Breakdown cover

Sometimes, no matter your winter car prep, things go wrong. Ensure that your breakdown cover is up to date and that you have the relevant details plugged into your phone before headed off on winter car journeys.

Oil and fuel

Confirm that there’s enough fuel in your vehicle before departing on any journey – it’s a basic winter car prep step, but an important one. It’s also wise to check your oil levels too, so you can avoid a winter breakdown or engine damage.

Take your vehicle in for a winter car service

If you don’t feel confident winterising your vehicle, you should take it in to be checked by a professional. In fact, you may even be able to take advantage of discounted winter car checks in the lead up to the season.

Don’t forget that keeping your car maintained throughout the year is also a great way of ensuring it’s in the best possible condition once the temperature drops.

Finance your perfect winter car

If you’re looking for a new vehicle that’s safer for the winter months, establish your car finance eligibility by contacting the team at My Car Credit today. We’ve also got a whole host of other articles, including more motoring advice, for you to read.

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