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By: John Adams, author of Dadbloguk.com, LinkedIn Changemaker, and dad of two young daughters
Posted on: Oct 29, 2020

Preparing Your Car for Winter: 7 Things to Check

I hate to break it to you, but Winter is fast approaching and Christmas is just a couple of months away!

Winter is a season when families can do a lot of travelling to meet up for celebrations (pending your local COVID-19 restrictions), so you should make sure your car is ready for the colder weather. There’s never a good time to deal with a breakdown, but being stuck at the side of a road in winter is no fun at all!

The nights are already drawing in so now is the time to get prepared. Here are 7 things to check to ensure your car is ready for the darker, colder winter months.

Car tyres

Top of my list would be to consider your car tyres. Poorly inflated, well-worn tyres will not stick to the road. At the very least, make sure your car tyres are properly inflated. You should also ensure your car’s tyres have enough tread to be used legally (this will differ by jurisdiction so you will need to check which laws apply to you and your vehicle).

In many European countries, motorists pay to have winter tyres fitted to their cars at this time of year and swap them back to summer tyres when the warmer weather returns. This is something you may want to consider as winter tyres perform much better in slippery, icy conditions.

Spare wheel

Speak to any motoring expert and they’ll tell you most people completely fail to check on the spare wheel. This is a big mistake. Should you ever have the misfortune to be relying on your spare wheel, you want to know it’s inflated, legal and safe. It’s bad enough having to change a wheel in the height of summer, but it will be even worse on a dark, winter evening. Make sure your spare wheel is up to the job!

Windshield wipers

With winter comes rain and dirty, slushy snow that can make your windshield/windscreen almost impossible to see out of. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and clear the entire windshield before setting off on each journey. If the wipers are a little worse for wear, be sure to replace them.

Windshield washers

Make sure your windshield washers are working effectively. If they aren’t lined up properly, they’ll spray people on the sidewalk or end up soaking the roof of your car! You also want to make sure they are filled up with a good quality screenwash that doesn’t freeze during the colder weather.

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Antifreeze

Make sure your car’s cooling system has antifreeze added to it. If it doesn’t and the water in the cooling system freezes, the least it will do is lead to a burst pipe, and at worst it will ruin the radiator leading to a costly repair. You can buy testing kits to check antifreeze levels. Alternatively, you may want to get it checked professionally by a mechanic.

Car battery and electric vehicles

How old is your car battery? If it is getting old, you may want to consider a replacement. Older batteries do not hold their charge as well and cold weather can make the problem worse.

If you’re driving an electric car, keep in mind that cold weather can have an impact on batteries being able to store energy. Make sure you keep your car fully charged and if you’re going on a long journey, plan in advance where you will stop and charge your vehicle.

The ‘emergency pack’ in case of breakdown

Just in case you find yourself stuck in snow or broken down in cold conditions, prepare an emergency pack, and store it in the trunk of your car. Items should include torches, cell phone battery packs and charging cables, warning triangle, high visibility waistcoats, wellington boots, food (cereal bars would be ideal), bottled water, and foil blankets. If you have space and can store it safely, you might want to pack a spade so you can dig your car out of snow.

Happy winter motoring!

One final suggestion is to check the weather report before leaving home if you are going on a long journey. If the forecast is bad, you can decide whether you really need to leave home.

With a little preparation and simple vehicle maintenance, you can reduce the risks posed by the winter weather. If you keep this and all the above points in mind, you will hopefully have a trouble-free winter of motoring ahead of you.

If you’d like to know more about winter driving, the Auto Express website has some additional ideas and also suggestions of products you might want to buy. Alternatively, if you’re based in the USA and want some ideas for winter drives, you’ll find some brilliant scenic routes on The Culture Trip blog.

Wherever you go and whatever you get up to this winter, I hope you stay safe!