The pre-winter checks to make on your car now
Winter is on the horizon once again, bringing with it colder weather, trickier conditions on the roads and more challenges to drivers. It’s paramount that you check your car beforehand to make sure that it’s up to scratch before the seasons turn dark and gloomy.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to give your car a once over. Here are some of the areas to check over before winter comes knocking.
To be seen is to be safe and that’s certainly the case during winter, when long nights see drivers behind the wheel in the dark more than ever. It’s why checking your lights is so important.
Switch your front lights on and check them to ensure that all the bulbs are functioning correctly. Try your full beams too. Check your rear lights as well, and test the brakes. Either get someone you know to look at the brake lights while you operate the pedal, or reverse close to a shiny surface (a garage door is ideal), look in the rearview mirror and try the brakes - you should be able to see if they’re working as they should.
Tyres are the one point of contact between car and road, so it’s not hard to work out why they’re so important. Make sure that you check that your tyres have enough tread - the UK legal limit is 1.6 millimetres. This can be done with a 20p coin - put the coin into the grooves of the tyre, and if the outer band of the coin is obscured, the tyres are within the limit. If not, they need changing.
As the temperatures drop, it could be a good idea to make the switch to winter tyres. These operate more effectively in the cold and help if there’s snow and ice on the roads too.
Oil and coolant
Both oil and coolant are essential to the smooth running of your car, particularly in colder temperatures when more stress is put upon your engine.
Both are simple and easy to check; consult your owner’s manual to locate the filler caps and top up with the recommended fluid. Use your dipstick to check oil levels; remove the dipstick, clean with a paper towel or rag and re-insert. Then, withdraw the dipstick and read the levels - if it’s low, then top it up with small increments in order to avoid over-filling.
As the roads begin to get salty and grimy, ensuring that you’ve got a clear windscreen is crucial. In order to do this, you need plenty of washer fluid - so make sure that you’ve got plenty.
Usually under the bonnet, the filler cap is traditionally blue. Avoid putting in just water, as, without washer fluid, this can freeze when the temperatures drop below zero.
In a similar theme to washer fluid, your wiper blades are a key part of making sure your windscreen is kept clear. Give your wipers a try; if they streak or make a rubbing noise, then it’s a good idea to swap them out for new ones.
They’re easy to fit, too. If you’re struggling, check the instructions on the wiper blade box or check your owner’s manual.
As frost becomes a more common occurrence, it’s worth keeping an ice scraper to hand. They don’t take up much space - one will easily fit in a glovebox or door bin - and they make a real difference when it comes to de-icing your windscreen.