winter to spring car preparation tips
cold conditions are tough on us and our cars so it's important to give your motor the tlc it deserves. with the british weather faring to be unpredictable, here are a few preventative measures to look after your car, giving you that extra hour in bed.
1. Spring has sprung: With warmer temperatures on the horizon and the promise of restrictions lifting, make sure your car is road worthy before you venture out. Given that our motors have been sat on the drive a lot this year in the cold weather, it's important to give your car a check-up. Have your forgone an annual service? These are all things to think about before travelling outside of your local area for the first time to avoid any unwanted breakdowns or issues
2. Take it easy on the roads: If you're making journeys when the weather isn't on side then drive carefully. When you're venturing on any slippery roads, take your time and proceed cautiously. It's important to steer gently, accelerate gradually and brake smoothly
3. Check all your lights: Irrespective of day or night, it's important to make sure that you can see and be seen on the roads, particularly in heavy rain, snow, mist or fog. Keep exterior lights clean and check that all of them are working. If you find any light bulbs that aren't working, these can be easily replaced. This can even be done for you at a garage or service centre, for a small fee
4. Check your tyres: At least once a week and when they are cold, you should check the tyre pressures on your car, this also includes the spare wheel. You should always do this before setting off on any long journeys. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm but for good grip in wet conditions, it's best to replace tyres once the depth reaches 2.0mm. In more extreme snowy conditions, it may be worth investing in a set of winter tyres or snow socks for the existing tyres you're using
5. Have an emergency kit: In your car, it's wise to carry an emergency kit that includes jump leads, torch, shovel and de-icer. It may be handy to have bottled water and food that's non-perishable in case you get stuck in a traffic jam or poor conditions. Blankets and warm clothing are also useful to have available
6. Share your location: Before setting out on a long journey, you can share your location with friends and family via your mobile phone. This can be done on WhatsApp and sharing your whereabouts including your ETA (estimated time of arrival) would be helpful when making any unplanned journeys. It's also a good idea to make sure your phone is fully charged up before you leave, if you can't charge it in the car
7. Is your door lock iced up? Storing lock de-icer in the car is no use to you in the event of this happening. So, it's important to make sure you've got a backup supply in the garage, or the house
8. Plan ahead: If you know the weather is going to drop cold overnight, then you can put a protective cover on your windscreen to help with the frosty conditions. During the colder months, you can purchase an all-season windscreen wash which will ensure that your windscreen fluid does not freeze over. If in doubt, most reputable garages will do a winter weather car health check for as little at £15. Always have de-icer and a windscreen wiper to hand and allow extra time to make sure the car is safe for your journey
9. Keep the windows and windscreen pristine: When the sun is low, this can be a real hazard to drivers - particularly combined with heavy rainfall. Take care in these conditions and regularly clean your windows and windscreen, inside and out to help with visibility. Only use a cleaner that is designed for car glass. If you're struggling with smearing, then clean the edges of wiper blades with a tissue dipped in neat screen wash additive. Keep checking the condition of your wiper blades and replace them if necessary. Again, you can do this yourself or have this done for you, at a small fee. Keep the washer reservoir topped up and use an additive with antifreeze properties (not engine antifreeze though!). In the morning, you can use warm (not boiling!) water for defrosting windows but watch where this runs to avoid ice slicks forming when this freezes
10. Check under the bonnet: Keep an eye on the level in the coolant reservoir and top up as necessary with a mix of water and antifreeze solution. The coolant (with antifreeze) should be changed every two to three years. Make sure the antifreeze concentration in the cooling system is adequate - if there has been a leak and you've been topping up with plain water, this may not be. You can buy a tester from a car accessory shop or get this tested at a garage. All checks should be done on a level surface to ensure accuracy of the readings. While you're there, make sure the battery terminals are tight and not corroded. The biggest cause of breakdowns in colder months are flat batteries so don't wait for your battery to fail, replace it in good time and make sure you have suitable breakdown cover.