5 Checks For Your Car This Winter
Updated: Jan 11, 2020
It's coming to the end of the year and with that, harsher weather. This is the time of year when the cold causes car parts to fail unexpectedly, right around Christmas. Find out what checks you need to do in order to anticipate faults, stay safe on the roads and keep your car healthy healthy this winter.
Check your coolant.
Coolant is a mixture of distilled water and ethylene glycol. Also referred to as antifreeze, its primary function is to absorb the extreme heat generated by a running engine. Coolant is introduced to the engine block and its components through a reservoir affixed to the radiator. If you've got a bottle of concentrated coolant then you'll need to mix it with water, a 50/50 mix. You can also buy Ready Mix bottles, for around a similar price, though it's often slightly cheaper to buy concentrated. If you want to know what the ratio is inside your tank already, you can buy testing kits online. Make sure that the fluid is filled up to the minimum line on your coolant tank.
Check your battery.
Although a car battery can last for at least five years (when properly cared for), it will usually become worn and inefficient within three years. This reduced lifespan is due to external factors like cold, wet weather – a normal occurrence in the UK. With the cold weather coming in it's time to check your battery. Check cables for cracks and wear. check the fluid in the cells are filled up to the full line - if not, you can top up with distilled water. If you have a multi-meter, you can check the voltage of the battery too. It should be around 12.8V, if it falls below 12.4V it needs to be charged as soon as possible. A continuous low charge damages the battery due to sulfation.
Check your wipers.
With winter, comes salty roads. This can become a hazard if you're out of windscreen wash as it'll stick to your windows. Top up your windscreen wash if you need to, you can buy either a readymix solution to simply top up the reseviour, or buy a bottle of concentrate and dilute it to 50:50 with water. You can do this fairly easy if you already have an empty bottle you've already used - just fill half of the old bottle with the concentrate mix, then top up one or both bottles with water. For the actual wipers, check for streaking, unusual noises, irregular movement or simply look for ragged blades. If you've got any of these then they might need replacing.
Check your tires
For winter driving conditions, your tires should have a tread depth of at least 4mm. For an idea of how much this is, there's a bump inside your tread that measures 1.6mm - the legal minimum. Be sure to check on the outside edge of the tire and the inside, as wear is often uneven due to pot holes and speed bumps changing the wheel alignment as you're driving. For tire pressure, refer to the sticker on the inside of the driver's door. Low tire pressure leads to worse fuel economy, sluggish steering, quicker wear and dangerously low levels of traction. If you're driving late at night give a visual inspection to your tires, as the pressure drops as the temperature does at night.
Check or change your oil
At the very least, check your oil dipstick to make sure it's in the right range, and top up if needed. You might want to consider changing your oil however, as colder temperatures thicken up your engine oil. Some manufacturers recommend using a thinner oil during winter months. So for example, if you usually use 5W40, go for 5W30 for winter. To find which oil your car needs, Halfords will let you know with just your Reg Number!
So that's our 5 winter car checks! If you're stuck with any of them, or you don't trust yourself then bring it into the garage and we'll help you out. Find us at:
Special Thanks to Matti from MWM Digital for helping with our blog.