The days are getting shorter and the nights are much chillier, which can only mean one thing: winter is coming. Though this is a season enjoyed by many people thanks to mugs of hot chocolate, fire pits in the garden and of course Christmastime, it’s not as kind to vehicles. To help you prepare, we’ve put together a winter checklist for your car and a few tips on safe driving in the winter.
Get a winter service
If your vehicle is due a service in the near future, it’s a good idea to have it done before winter arrives. This will help to nip any minor problems in the bud and prevent them from growing into potentially disruptive and expensive issues. A winter car service also gives you the peace of mind that everything is tip-top and ready for driving in cold, frosty conditions, as the battery, tyres, antifreeze, coolant, windscreen wipers, oil and lights will all be checked by a professional mechanic.
Even if you do get a service, there are a few other things to keep on top of during the winter months to ensure your vehicle remains safe to drive, which we’ve listed below.
Check the battery
Car batteries typically last between three and five years, so if yours is approaching the end of its life, the last thing you want is for it to die when you’re out on the road during a snowstorm. Remember that cold temperatures reduce the output of a car battery, plus you’ll probably be using your lights and heater more often, so this season very much guzzles up energy. It’s always best to have the battery replaced a little sooner than usual than risk a breakdown when it’s cold and wet outdoors.
Do you have enough antifreeze?
Antifreeze really is amazing stuff, as it prevents the water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing during winter. It does this by lowering the freezing point of the liquid, making it much harder for ice to form within the vehicle’s engine and keeping the car running smoothly.
As if that isn’t clever enough, antifreeze simultaneously increases the boiling point of engine coolant to stop it from overheating, prevents corrosion within the engine, and aids heat transfer for higher performance. Needless to say, make sure you always have plenty available.
Tyre pressure and tread depth are crucial
A vehicle’s tyres go through a lot of stress, especially during the winter months when ice, snow, freezing surfaces, wet conditions and road grit are prevalent. Your car’s tyres are central to both steering and braking, so you should regularly check their pressure and inflate them to the correct amount whenever required. Another important factor is tread depth, which should be around 3mm during winter and certainly no lower than 1.6mm because that’s the legal minimum. Depending on the vehicle, you may even want to swap your current tyres for winter tyres that offer better grip.
Keep the lights clean
The winter months can be dark, misty and very wet, which greatly reduces visibility for both the driver and everyone around them. By keeping your vehicle’s lights, indicators and rear reflectors spotless, you’ll be able to see the path ahead whilst remaining visible to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers.
Whilst you’re at it, check that the full-beam headlights, fog lights and indicators are all working properly, as you’ll be needing these even more than usual.
Carry a winter car kit
There are a few items that you should always carry in your car in case of emergencies, such as a spare battery, screen wash, warning triangles, a high-vis vest and jump leads. However, in winter there are a few seasonal items that every car should contain just in case:
- Scraper and de-icer
- Smartphone power bank
- Blankets and warm clothes (hats, jumpers, scarves, gloves)
- Sunglasses (it’s amazing just how bright that low winter sun can be)
- Strong boots with good grip in case you need to walk somewhere for assistance
Be prepared for longer journeys
Even if you’re doing the usual commute or driving somewhere you’ve been a million times before, the winter weather can cause unexpected delays. Adding an extra five or ten minutes to your journey hopefully won’t make much difference, but there’s a chance it could be up to an hour or more. Here are some tips to prepare you for driving in the winter:
- Check the weather forecast and travel news
- Consult Google Maps to see if there are any disruptions
- Allow extra time for the journey, just to be on the safe side
- If you’re quite low on fuel, pop to the nearest petrol station ASAP
- Have your scraper and de-icer at the ready
- Make sure your smartphone is fully charged before leaving
- A vacuum flask of tea, coffee or hot chocolate can make all the difference!
Protect your vehicle from frost
When you’re not driving, it’s a very good idea to keep your vehicle in a garage if you have one. This significantly reduces the chances of constant rain and frost causing rust to form. If you don’t have a garage, and even if you do, we recommend using a thick car cover, as this will help to stop the windscreen from icing over, plus the interior of the vehicle won’t be quite as cold when you’re setting off on your morning drive.
Modular wraps protect your car
As an added bonus, modular vehicle wraps offer a layer of protection as well as looking absolutely fantastic. The vinyl acts as a barrier against light scuffs, scratches, hailstones, harsh chemicals and aggressive car washes, making modular vehicle wraps an excellent investment in more ways than one. Take a look at our portfolio of LGV fleet modular wraps for inspiration.
Get in touch
To find out more about our fast, affordable and hassle-free vehicle wraps, get in touch on 01482 686010 or fill in our contact form.