With summer but a distant memory, the last, last-cut, of the grass in the garden done and the joyous task of going to, and returning from, your day job in the dark, it can mean only one thing; winter is coming. Yay.
As well as preparing yourself for the inevitability that all local roads will go to pot with the mere mention of the word ‘snow’, you should really be giving your car the once-over and making sure that it’s ready for whatever winter will bring. Below are the key things you should be casting your eyes over. But, if you don’t have the time, or inclination, most garages worth their salt will carry out the following for free.
Sounds obvious, but there are plenty of cars out there that don’t have enough coolant in their system. This should be regularly checked and topped up with the correct type of anti-freeze if required. Your garage can check and tell you if the mixture is right and it’s offering the right level of protection.
During the winter months, batteries become the most common cause for a car not to start. Once they get to five years old, they can sometimes struggle to turn the engine over for long before giving up. Get your garage to test the battery now and, if necessary, get it replaced before it lets you down.
This needs to be around 50% concentrate during the winter to stop it freezing, plus it’s worth making sure that what goes in is of good quality. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can get through screen wash during the winter.
Windscreen and wipers
If you’re in the car and we’re lucky enough to be having a spot of dry weather, you might find yourself dazzled by the low sun. Keep the screen clean on the inside and the outside and make sure that the wiper blades are in good condition, too.
Whilst the legal limit is 1.6mm, you really want at least 3mm of tread on your tires for winter motoring. Better still, consider a switch to winter tyres. These are specifically designed to work in lower temperatures, and actually do. Either way, check your pressures every two weeks.
Check all of your lights regularly, and also give them a good clean so that you can see and also so that you can be seen. It’s worth purchasing a bulb pack to carry around – just in case.
Locks and door seals
If you are still using a key to get into your car, rather than a push of a button, it’s worth giving the inside of your door locks a squirt with some WD-40 to help stop them freezing. You can also smear a thin layer of Vaseline or polish on the rubber door seals to stop them freezing shut.
As well as the above, it’s good practice to make sure you’ve always got at least quarter of a tank of fuel in the car. Also that there is a rug or similar in the boot, a couple of bits of carpet or cardboard to stick under the wheels should you get stuck in the snow, a warm reflective jacket, a torch that works, extra screen wash, some de-icer, some snacks, and even a tow rope. You’re better off being prepared than not, especially as the roads seem to grind to a halt every time it so much as threatens to snow…