How to prepare your vehicle for winter

Car breakdowns increase hugely over the winter months, to give yourself the best chance of not being amongst those statistics, keep your car maintenance up-to-date and take a few sensible measures.

We’ve put together an overview of checks you should undertake now the days are shortening and the temperature dropping.

For your car

To give yourself the optimum chance of staying safe while driving over the winter months, check the following:

Your car’s lights

Checks your car’s lights are working well at regular intervals throughout the winter and that they are not obscured by dirt, dust, debris or salt. You’ll have the best chance of being seen in inclement weather and low light levels; if your lights are clean, clear and working efficiently. Carry spare bulbs in your car, just in case you need them.

Check your tyres

To ensure your car is working as efficiently and safely as possible, check your tyres, ascertain that the tread is within the legal limit. Remember the tread depth must be at least 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre and around its whole circumference.

A good rule of thumb is to place a twenty pence piece into the tread; and if you can’t see the coin’s rim, the tread is within the legal limit. Just be mindful that you’ll need to check at least three places around each tyre and that you should replace your tyres before they reach the legal minimum. In fact for winter driving a minimum of 3mm is recommended for the tyre tread. In addition, check your tyres’ pressure too.

Fit winter tyres

Also, consider having winter tyres fitted to your car, as they’ll give you a better grip in wintery conditions including snow, ice and low temperatures. Winter tyres are an investment worth making for the additional safety they’ll afford you, especially if you have to drive a significant amount over the winter.

Check your car’s battery

Mitigate the difficulty of starting your car on a winter morning by having the condition of your car battery checked by a specialist before the colder weather sets in. Also, ensure your paperwork is up-to-date, including your insurance and breakdown cover so that you can call for assistance should the need arise. Contact Call Wiser, to find the right deal for your car and circumstances.

Essential antifreeze

In addition, to help your car’s engine work as efficiently as possible even in low temperatures, test your antifreeze is working effectively. You can buy a kit that will check the freezing point, or ask a professional for help.

Screen wash is crucial

Next, refill your car’s screen wash, so the windscreen keeps clear even in inclement weather. As screen wash freezes at a lower temperature than water, your jets may well continue to work for longer than you might expect.

Winter safety checks

If you don’t feel confident undertaking these checks yourself, then seek out a local mechanic to help you as many offer this service; and you may even find one that provides a winter “health check” for your car for free.

For your well-being

As well as undertaking these basic checks of your car’s condition, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe, warm and contactable over the winter months when driving.

Firstly, ensure you have a few emergency supplies in your car before the winter weather sets in; including a fully charged mobile phone and appropriate charger. Make certain you have spare screen wash, de-icer and a scraper on board. A shovel, suitable tow rope, plus a torch and spare batteries are essential supplies that should also be stored in your car; (we’ll assume you always carry a spare tyre). Don’t rely solely on your sat nav, keep a road atlas in your car too.

Moreover, keep warm clothes, wellingtons or other sturdy footwear plus bedding (a blanket, duvet or sleeping bag for example) in your car when driving during the winter. Also, ensure you keep food, drink, a first aid kit and any medication you have to take regularly, in your car too. Give thought as to how you’ll be seen when visibility is poor; so ideally pack a hi-vis jacket and a hazard warning triangle.

Winter driving tips for you

Before setting out on a long winter journey, check the route and weather warnings, and allow yourself additional journey time.

When driving during the winter take things slowly, steadily and gently. Leave plenty of room between you and the next car to allow for the vastly increased stopping distances and make gentle manoeuvres. However, there are many additional winter driving tips available online to help you, so peruse them before the season changes.

So there you have an overview of checks you should undertake on your vehicle, so it’s ready for winter and a few essential supplies you should keep onboard when you travel.

jon sumner

Experienced director of digital media with a demonstrated history of working in the publishing industry. Strong media and communication professional skilled in media sales, digital strategy, web development,...

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