Whilst we all turn up the heating and add a few extra layers to our outfit in the morning, spare a thought for your car this winter. Left braving the snow, ice and rain, a little winter car care can help you keep safe and on the road during the darker months of the year.
The effects of wear and tear aren’t always obvious, so regardless of when you last had your vehicle serviced, our Winter Health Check will give you peace of mind that your car is up for the challenge of cold days and dark nights.
Read on to discover what gets checked during our Winter Health Check, and why each point is important.
Worn tyres are dangerous any time of the year, but due to stopping distances increasing in icy, snowy or wet conditions, it’s even more important your tyres are as healthy as possible during the winter.
Your tyres are the only part of your car that is in direct contact with the road surface so it is essential your wheels are in good condition. The legal tyre tread limit is a minimum of 1.6mm, however, experts such as RAC recommend at least 3mm of tread for the best possible chance of gripping the road and maintain safe stopping distances.
An extra tip is to get a road-worthy spare tyre too, for added security and safety when out on the road.
Cooling system check
Without coolant in your car, your car will overheat leading to damage that will be costly. In the winter, it’s important to ensure your coolant has anti-freeze in it. Most vehicles younger than 15 years old have been manufactured to weather most storms, including the great British Winter, and as long as they have been correctly maintained you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Regular maintenance of your cars cooling system will ensure you stay away from expensive repairs, extend the overall life of your vehicle and make sure you and your family are kept safe this winter.
The engine cooling systems should be a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and distilled water to prevent freezing and boiling over. Our experts will fully check your cooling system, as well as adding or changing the anti-freeze, and checking for any leaks.
Did you know, battery failure is the most common reported cause of breakdowns during the winter months?
The cold weather has a knock-on effect on your cars battery. When temperatures fall below zero, even a fully charged battery will only have two-thirds of its power available. Batteries that are over 5 years old can struggle to start in freezing conditions as their ability to retain their charge is significantly reduced.
As part of your Winter Health Check, our technicians will carry out a full battery evaluation to ensure it is at full strength, and inform you of any problems that need further attention.
We will check your oil level to ensure it is between the minimum and maximum mark on your vehicles dipstick. The RAC say one in three vehicles their patrols attend are dangerously low on oil, which can lead to engine damage or a breakdown.
Oil is vital to keeping all moving parts of your engine lubricated so they do not grind and cause damage, as well as absorbing heat from the working parts to keep the engine cool.
Keeping your screen wash topped up is extremely important during the colder months. With extra moisture on the roads, there is an increase of dirt that will hit your windscreen, so you need to ensure you can get rid of it sufficiently.
It is also worth noting that you shouldn’t fill your washer fluid up with washing up liquid as this can cause your windscreen to be smeary and can clog up the spray nozzles for future use.
If your screen wash isn’t of suitable concentration, it could damage the internal system or cause your washers to freeze. This subsequently could stop the spray nozzles from working, or the water could freeze as it hits your windscreen which will obscure the road ahead.
Wipers and windscreen
It is illegal to have a windscreen which does not provide you with a clear view of the road. During the summer months, your windscreen wipers would have enjoyed a little break from being used, however during the winter months these will be in high demand.
Our experts will check your wipers and ensure they are clean and will not leave smears and streaks.
Legally, you must ensure that your windscreen wipers are fully functional and that it is not chipped or cracked. We suggest that if you do have a small chip, that you get it fixed before winter, due to cold weather causing a chip to grow until a large crack appears. Remember, repairing a chip is likely to cost a lot less than having to replace your entire windscreen.
A top tip from our technicians is to never leave your wipers running if these are obstructed by ice on the windscreen in a bid to clear it quicker. You are likely to damage the windscreen wipers or blow the fuse which will need full wiper replacements.
As well as all the above, our team will also complete checks on your brakes and brake fluid to ensure they are working at optimal performance for icy or wet roads. A light inspection will also be done to ensure you aren’t driving with an illegal faulty bulb, and that your lights are fully functioning for better visibility on the road.
There are many points on this list that you may be able to complete yourself at home. A few are more challenging, so if you cannot confidently carry out these checks yourself, you should have our trained professionals do it for you as this could save you time and money on repairs and roadside recovery.
We also suggest a few essentials you should pack in the boot when out on the road for the colder months; just in case you do unfortunately suffer a breakdown. These are:
Our trained technicians will let you know of any issues you may want to address before the harsh winter weather arrives.