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Winter Checks For Your Car

 13th Nov 2013

Avoid accidents ­ by preparing your car for winter…

Obviously it’s extremely important to keep your vehicle in the best condition you can throughout the year, but as winter approaches there are some checks that can really help you to stay safe on the roads and ensure that you’re minimising any potential risks.

So, get prepared for the winter weather and reduce your chance of an accident by making these checks on your car.

Winter checks - Snowy car tyre close up

1. Stay Serviced

Autumn or the beginning of winter is probably the best time of year to get your car serviced, a professional technician should be able to diagnose and rectify any potential issues that may cause you problems or break downs in the cold weather, it’s great for your peace of mind as well as your car!

2. Tyres, ­ check and maintain them…

The legal minimum tread required for your tyres is 1.6mm, however, in icy, wet or snowy conditions, your tyres need to be at their best, so consider investing in new tyres before the winter period to ensure you stay as safe as possible.

When checking your tyres, don’t forget to also check for tears, bulges, cracks and nails or objects stuck in your tyres.  And don’t forget to also ensure your tyre pressure is correct (this is also a legal requirement). Your vehicle handbook or data sticker, (usually round inside your car door), will tell you the right tyre pressure for your car and you can check this using a tyre gauge.  Plus you’ll also save money by ensuring your tyre pressures are correct as this will increase fuel economy.

3. Antifreeze, don’t get caught without it

Sub-zero temperatures can seriously affect your car’s engine, and could even damage it.  The way to avoid any problems is to add antifreeze to the water in your radiator.  If you’ve not done this before or you’re not sure how much to add then check your vehicle handbook and make sure you don’t exceed the maximum level, (the standard mix is usually 50:50, antifreeze to water).  It’s easy to check what temperature your car is protected by purchasing an Antifreeze Tester from a motoring supplies outlet for a couple of pounds (alternatively you can take your vehicle to your franchise garage and get them to check for you, although this may be a lot more expensive).

4. Light up…

With darker days its important that your lights are in good working order.  So check for faulty or loose bulbs in all your lights and check that they’re all working.  Get someone to walk around the car while testing and ask them tap headlights, indicators, fog lights, reversing lights gently when they’re on ­ if they flicker then they may need replacing or tightening up.

5. Oil check

This one’s a reminder and is just as important throughout the rest of the year ­ check your oil on a regular basis and prior to any long journeys, top up as necessary to avoid causing damage to your engine.  Check your hand book to find out the oil grade you require.

6. Windows and wipers

You need to be able to see the road ­ so check your wiper blades, are they damaged? If they are then replace them. Test them too and make sure they are clearing water effectively.
Ensure your windscreen is clean and that you’ve got screenwash in your washer bottle.  Screenwash contains an agent to stop your washer fluid freezing in low temperatures ­ DO NOT add antifreeze to your washer bottle as it’s corrosive and can cause damage to your paintwork.

7. Battery power

Check that your battery connections are tight and that wires aren’t damaged.  If your battery has been struggling then now’s the time to invest in a new one.

8. Check your brakes!

Your brakes could save your life.  Again, it’s crucial that your brakes are in good working order throughout the year but with icy road surfaces, poor visibility and other winter related weather conditions approaching its even more important to check your brake fluid and check your brakes.  Listen for squeaks and look for rust - if you’re worried about your brakes then take your car to your franchise garage for an inspection.

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