Your Guide to Winter Car Maintenance
Find out how to prepare your car for cold winter conditions
Winter is coming, and with it comes the challenge of keeping your car in good shape. Cold temperatures, ice, and snow can all take a toll on your vehicle’s performance and safety. To avoid breakdowns, accidents, or costly repairs, you’ll need to prepare your vehicle for the harsh conditions ahead. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential winter car maintenance tips to help you keep your vehicle running smoothly during the coldest months of the year. Read on to find out more.
Tips for preparing your car for winter driving
1. Inspect your tyres
One of the most critical aspects of winter car maintenance is tyre care. Not only can the cold temperatures cause the air pressure of your tyres to drop leading to decreased traction, but poor weather conditions can also make the roads slippery and dangerous. To reduce your risk of causing an accident, we recommend the following:
Tyre pressure: Regularly check and maintain your tyre pressure as recommended in your vehicle’s owner's manual. Use a pressure gauge to confirm they are inflated correctly.
Tread depth: Ensure your tyres have sufficient tread depth to provide grip on icy or snowy roads. A quick and easy way to check this is by inserting a 20p coin into the grooves of your tyre. If you can't see the outer ring on the coin, your tyres are all good. If you can see the outer ring, however, it’s time for new tyres.
Snow tyres: While the use of snow tyres in the UK is less essential — mainly due to the fact we experience less extreme weather conditions — for those living in rural areas, it's a valuable consideration as they significantly improve your traction on snow and ice.
2. Monitor your battery
Cold temperatures can be tough on your car battery, potentially reducing its power and lifespan. Therefore, it’s important to check its condition to prevent a dead battery from occurring. If you find your battery struggles to combat the seasonal change, then it might be time to replace it.
3. Check your lights
Visibility is crucial in winter, especially when the days are shorter and the weather is gloomier. Make sure all your lights are working properly, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, indicators, and fog lights. Get any burn-out bulbs replaced and clean any dirt from the covers.
4. Change your fluids
In winter, sub-zero temperatures have the potential to freeze liquids within your car's systems, potentially causing damage and hindering its performance. That’s why it's important to ensure you have the right fluids in your car. Here are two to look out for:
Coolant/antifreeze: The cooling system in your car needs to be able to handle freezing temperatures, which means you need to check the coolant level at least once a month and top it up with antifreeze if needed.
Screen wash: To prevent your washer fluid from freezing, fill your car up with a screen wash designed for frosty temperatures.
5. Test your defroster and heater
Your defroster and heater are essential for keeping your windows clear of fog, frost, and ice and keeping you warm inside the car. Before winter arrives you should test them both and fix any issues as soon as possible — you’ll regret it if you don’t.
6. Inspect your brakes
Brakes are crucial for road safety all year round, but they become even more important during the winter when roads are made wet and slippy from rain, ice, or snowfall. Have your brake system checked by a professional, and replace any worn brake pads as soon as possible.
7. Pack an emergency kit
Even if you follow all these winter car maintenance tips, you may still encounter unexpected situations on the road which could leave you stranded in the dark and cold. That’s why you should always pack a well-stocked emergency kit. Some items to include are:
Blankets and warm clothing
Snacks and water
Torch with batteries
First aid kit
Reflecting warning triangle
Safety check included with all West Motors used cars
One way to prepare yourself for winter driving is by purchasing a car that’s already checked and ready for the harsh conditions. At West Motors, all our used cars come with a new MOT (if less than 6 months remain), and a 117-point safety inspection conducted by trained and qualified technicians.