Driving in winter isn’t always the easiest; there are frost-covered windscreens, icy road conditions and often you’re heading home in the dark making visibility an issue. While our cars and vehicles are great at shielding us from the worst weather winter can throw at us, they, too, need safeguarding from the damp and bitter cold. From protecting our engines to ensuring our tyres are safe, let’s look at the essential winter checks for our cars.
What checks do I need to make for winter driving?
To understand which checks need to be completed, we have to look at the damage and toll that winter can take on our cars. The cold can cause a multitude of issues with your car, from causing your tyre pressure to drop to thickening oil and reducing the effectiveness of your battery.
The older the antifreeze in your engine is, the less effective it will be as it dilutes over time, so ensuring it is topped up and mixed for the time of year prevents starting issues for your car. Frost impacts our windows but if the glass is frozen on the inside, it could be a sign that your car’s defrosting function isn’t effective.
Winter visibility checks
As the temperatures drop, the rubber on our windscreen wipers is prone to becoming brittle which causes tears or cracks. This makes the wipers less effective and you may wish to upgrade your wiper blades to more robust models that can withstand the winter.
With darkness and poor conditions impacting visibility our lights become more important than ever. Not only do they allow us to see better but other road users can spot us more easily too. Ensure that you clean your lights periodically to remove dirt, frost and snow that reduces their effectiveness. Equally, ensure that you clean the outside and inside of your windows to improve visibility.
Checking your tyres for winter
Your tyres are an essential point of contact with the road and given the less-than-optimal conditions we face in the winter, checking them should become a part of your routine. We need them for steering, braking and grip so checking for pressure and tread depth are the two tyre checks you can complete at home.
Pressure should be adjusted per the instruction manual that comes with your car, but a handy guide is typically found on the inside of the driver’s door in modern vehicles for convenience. Most readily-available tyre inflators include a pressure gauge so you can check and inflate at your convenience.
Tread depth must be a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across three-quarters of the tyre, and this is typically indicated by a notch in the tread around the tyre. Without effective tread, our tyres cannot push water from wet, winter roads out, reducing grip and increasing the risk of aquaplaning – where a layer of water is trapped between the tyre and the road, rendering steering ineffective.
If you are unsure about the tread depth, our tyre specialists are available to check for you and replace any unsafe tyres.
Driving in the dark essentials
During winter it can start getting dark and moody from mid-afternoon, leading to long nights. Driving after the sun has set can be difficult to navigate as you are dazzled by the lights of other cars, raindrops and smears from your wipers collect on your windscreen and condensation gathers inside, obscuring your view further.
To ensure you can see as much as possible during these conditions you must check your wipers are clean and free from debris before setting off on your journey.
Leaves commonly get stuck underneath and rather than pushing the water from your windscreen they smear water in your field of vision. Additionally, having something to hand to wipe the inside of your windows if they steam up is a useful addition while an air conditioning recharge helps clear condensation much faster than a basic air blower.
Get a winter car service with Basingstoke MOT and Servicing Centre
Every year, 24% of weather-related accidents happen due to snow, sleet or ice – conditions we expect in winter. For the ultimate peace of mind, winter checks for your car, completed by a professional garage like ours, ensure that you are ready – whatever the weather.
Our garage has the means and equipment to complete a comprehensive checklist for winter, including changing of essential fluids for keeping your car on the road like antifreeze and oil, and battery checks to avoid breakdowns. Contact a member of our team to book your seasonal car service.