Without a doubt, you should keep your car well maintained throughout the year, but when it comes to the cold winter months, it's doubly important to conduct those winter checks. Although winter checks are not that much different to normal car maintenance checks, there are some items that should perhaps be given more attention than others.
Here are our top maintenance tips that could help see you through the winter this year:
When conducting your winter maintenance checks, your battery should be your first priority. Cold and damp weather during the winter months can be put a massive strain on your vehicle's battery life and it can have a negative impact on how your battery can deliver. You can check whether you have enough charge in your battery by simply turning on your headlights before you start your engine. Once you've turned your engine on, if you notice the lights get brighter, your battery may be dying and struggling to provide enough power to start your vehicle.
Over time, you'll need to top up your engine coolant with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze, but in the winter it should be a 60/40 ratio. Many people often make the mistake of topping up their coolant with water throughout the year, which means that the antifreeze becomes over-diluted and then freezes during cold weather. Simply, unscrew your coolant reservoir cap, lower the tube into the coolant and simply squeeze the rubber bulb on the end to suck some antifreeze inside the tester.
It's essential to ensure that your tyres are in good condition as they are key to your vehicle's steering and braking. If you frequently drive in tough conditions in the winter snow then it is recommended that you invest in some winter tyres. Offering exceptional grip, winter tyres perform very well in the snow, ice and even when it's wet. It's also important that you check your tyres for pressure and tread depth. Although the legal limit is 1.6mm, it is recommended that you have more than this during the winter as they will give you a better grip.
We're all aware that winter weather is frequently wet and that your windscreen draws all the dirt from the road and trees, which means you use your windscreen wipers a lot more than usual. Ensure that you give your windscreen a thorough clean both inside and out and top up your washer fluid with some screen wash. You can buy ready mixed or concentrate screen wash, which you'll need to mix with water.
5. CHANGE YOUR OIL
You should check your oil regularly and should top it up when needed, but during the cold winter days, checking your oil couldn't be more important. Generally, you'll need thinner oil during the winter and when it comes to checking the oil, ensure that your vehicle is parked on level ground and that the engine is cold.
Although it sounds simple, you should check that all of your vehicle's lights, indicators and rear reflectors are clean, that there are no cracked lenses and that all of the bulbs are working as they should. Your exterior lights are extremely important, not only so that you can see the road ahead on those dark winter nights, but so that other road users can easily see you.
7. CHECK YOUR DEFROSTER AND HEATER
In order to help you drive safely in the winter you really need your defroster and heater to function properly. Although these types of repairs can be costly, one top tip that could help you save money is to check for any air leaks around your vehicle's doors and windows as leaks can allow in extra moisture and it may appear to seem that you have a broken defroster.
8. EMERGENCY KIT
If you don't already have an emergency kit in your vehicle, winter is most definitely the time to put one together. You may think that carrying an emergency kit with you in your vehicle at all times is a little extreme, but just imagine how glad you'd be if you ever found yourself stranded. Some things you may want to pack in your kit are a soft-bristled snow brush, plastic scraper, salt, a shovel, a torch, a couple of blankets and don't forget a fully charged mobile phone.