Winter can be a pretty hard time of year for a car. Its colder, rainier, and depending how far north you live, there is the ever-present chance of snow, too. Not only can these weather conditions make driving that much trickier, they can also have an adverse effect on the car’s performance.
Bearing this in mind, we’ve created the following list of things you should check to help ensure your car will get through the winter in the best shape possible.
Fit winter tyres
At temperatures lower than seven degrees Celsius, winter tyres provide higher levels of grip than regular ones. They also provide far more traction when there the road is snowy or wet. Because of their superior performance in winter conditions, countries such as Germany and Austria have made it a legal requirement to have them fitted to your car during the winter months.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will be able to just dispose of your summer tyres altogether and use winter tyres year round, however. When temperatures climb back above seven degrees, winter rubber isn’t as effective. Instead of swapping the actual tyres themselves, why not fit your winter tyres to a set of cheap steel wheels over the colder months? This will also mean your regular alloys are in tip-top condition come summer time.
You’ll find there aren’t many occasions where you’ll have to use snow chains in the UK, but if you’re planning on heading to Europe with your car, you will find certain countries require you to carry them by law. Only use them if absolutely necessary, though, as they wear the road surface out and provide much less grip if there is no snow on the road.
Because of their large alloys, some modern cars aren’t capable of having snow chains fitted. It’s also worth noting that some alternatives, such as snow socks, are banned in some countries.
Carry blankets and warm clothing
In the event of a roadside breakdown or incident during the winter, you do not want to find yourself stranded without any means of keeping warm. To prevent this from happening, it is worthwhile stowing blankets and warm clothing in your car to help keep yourself and other car occupants warm in the event of a breakdown.
Check your lights
The sun is beginning to set far earlier in the day now, so there is no better time to ensure that your car’s lights are working correctly. Turn the headlights on and circle the car on foot, inspecting each bulb in the process. Do the same for the indicators, and use a reflective surface such as a window or garage door see if your brake lights are working properly.
It’s important to remember that car lights aren’t there solely to allow you to see better in the dark, they also make you more visible to other road users – especially in poor weather conditions.
Top up vital fluids
You’ll likely find that you use a lot more windscreen washer fluids in the winter, due to volatile weather and increased spray from the road. Because of this, it always pays to check your washer fluid levels, and top up as required.
Be sure to keep tabs on your car’s oil and coolant levels, too, as this will minimise the chances of an unexpected breakdown.