With the winter months approaching, thoughts turn to what to buy our loved ones for Christmas and where to go for winter sun, but how many of us take the time to ensure that our cars are winter ready?
A study carried out recently by a popular motoring organisation stated that during the winter months a car breaks down on average every six seconds! However, a few simple checks carried out regularly can greatly reduce your chances of this happening to you.
The AA states that one in four breakdowns are caused by failed batteries. With the demand from modern cars electrical systems, batteries rarely last more than five or six years, less if the vehicle is used irregularly or for repeated short journeys. Get the battery tested before winter and if in doubt, replace it. If a car is not going to be used for a period, it may be necessary to charge it before using the car – purchase good quality jump leads to keep in the car just in case.
Check the condition, pressures and tread depth of all tyres including the spare regularly. The legal limit in the UK is 1.6mm across ¾ of the width of the tyre but did you know the effect that reduced tread depth has on stopping distances especially in wet conditions? At 50mph in the wet, the difference in stopping distances between a new tyre and a worn tyre is a staggering 52%. It is now recommended at this time of year to replace tyres when they reach 3mm.
Fill up the screen wash bottle before every long journey so that it does not run out. Mix the screen wash 50:50 to provide increased frost protection during the colder months and carry some additional fluid in the car for emergency use should you run out.
Ensure that the antifreeze, also referred to as coolant, level and strength is correct and carry some spare in the car in case you need to top up.
Check your handbook for the correct type for your car as different types do not mix well. Typically, antifreeze is mixed 50:50 with water to provide adequate frost protection to approx -34 degrees but get your garage to check it and replace if necessary.
Check the operation of all the lights and always carry sufficient spares with you on longer journeys. Check the wiper blades for splits or damage and replace if necessary. Switch the wipers off after every journey and make sure that the wiper blades are not frozen to the windscreen before starting the car and operating them as this can damage the blades and the motor. Clean the windscreen, windows and lights regularly. Remember, using the air conditioning even in the winter reduces condensation and helps to maintain clear visibility.