When temperatures start to drop, it's time to get the car ready for another winter. The right maintenance, preparation and tools can be lifesavers in harsh conditions.
Now's the time to get the car up to date on all of its regular maintenance. That means taking care of any fluids that may have been neglected during the summer or going in for that service if it is due. Check, change and/or top off your oil, coolant, brake and transmission fluid as needed. In the case of your oil or automatic transmission, make sure you get a high-quality filter, too. It may seem like overkill to take care of all of your fluids at once, but it's worth it in the long run.
Take a look at the car's brakes too. Are the rotors warped or cracked? Do they have deep grooves or are the pads worn close to their minimum clearance?
Your vehicle will be experiencing harsher conditions soon, so nip any potential problems in the bud now.
Make sure all your lights are working properly to ensure good visibility. New bulbs only cost a few pounds and are easy to install yourself or easy to have installed when getting your vehicle serviced.
The same goes for windscreen wipers. If the blades are more than six months old, chances are it's time to replace them-also don't forget to fill the washer fluid reservoir with freeze resistant wiper fluid.
Check Your Tyres.
Also remember to have have the tyres inspected. The last thing you need in cold, wet weather is to be driving on bald or worn tyres. Err on the side of caution and replace any tyres that are too worn. It is also worth considering snow (or winter) tyres, depending on how bad and how long the snow gets/lasts. Winter tyres are made with special low temperature resilient rubber compounds and have deep treads that grip better in the snow and ice. Even the best all-season tires have compounds that get more brittle as the temperature drops, and when that happens, the tyres tend to grip less. The winter tyre compound remains pliable when temperatures are low, retaining grip and keeping the car's safety systems, like all-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes, functioning properly. Don't forget to check the spare tyre as well ! Once you've made sure everything looks good,check the tyre pressures. With everything up to spec, you'll get better fuel mileage and the car will handle and stop better.
If the battery is getting long in the tooth,it would be better to replace it with a new one before the temperatures really drop as when it fails,which it will,it is almost a certainty that it will fail at the worst possible time in the most inconvenient place !
Protect the Interior.
You can't ignore the impact weather can have on the interior of your vehicle either. If you're going to spend a lot of time jumping in and out of the car in bad weather, you might want to consider some all-weather floor mats. They're easy to clean and do a great job of keeping the dirt in one place. Making sure your windows are clean will also improve visibility and reduce the likelihood of them steaming up.
Maintain the Coolant System.
A very important tip is to take the time to get the coolant system checked. Extreme temperatures and harsh conditions can knock it out easily if it's not up to standards. If any part of the system is below par,replace the parts with new ones. That means having the radiator pressure tested and the hoses examined for cracks or bulges. Most shops can quickly test radiators without the hassle of having to remove them from the vehicle. If you can't remember the last time your water pump was replaced, or if your pump has more miles on it than what the manufacturer recommends, it's time for a new one. Whilst everything is apart, go for a new thermostat as well because you'll save money on labour getting these two done at the same time. Even if everything comes up with a clean bill of health under the bonnet, replacing your engine's coolant is cheap insurance against extreme temperatures. Over time, antifreeze can actually generate a weak electrical current, which can then cause oxidation and eventually failure inside of your coolant system. You'll want at least a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water to provide protection against below-zero temperatures. Keeping everything fresh inside will put less stress on your car and save you serious money in the long run. Stock Your Car.
Stranded by the side of the road can be dangerous in the best of conditions, but when sub-zero temperatures or bad weather is involved, it can be literally life threatening. Carrying these supplies may save your life:
- a blanket
- jump leads
- a torch
- a first-aid kit
- a small knife
- a few high energy snacks such as mint cake
-a flask of hot tea/coffee/soup
- small shovel
- waterproof matches/wind proof lighter
- ice scraper
- a bag of sand or gravel to help provide traction if your car is stuck in the snow
-a fully charged mobile 'phone
A little preparation goes a long way to keep your car running smoothly during the winter months. Not only will the right tools and maintenance protect you and the car from the elements, but they will also keep you safe.
Member since: 4th June 2013
An owner of Thebestof Portsmouth, I have lived in Portsmouth and Southsea all my life, so I like to think I have a good idea about what makes us tick. I am passionate about all things Portsmouth and Southsea,...