As winter approaches and temperatures drop, keeping your car in tiptop working order takes on more importance than normal because the weather puts more strain on your car, its bodywork, engine and component parts. For so many of us these days, a car contributes significantly to making both our working and family lives function smoothly: if your car ends up out of action, invariably so do you. Or at the very least, life becomes far more complicated.
According to vehicle breakdown companies, cars are twice as likely to break down during winter months. And with cars such an expensive commodity, you need to do your best to look after and care for this most prized possession so that it retains both its market value and performance.
Doing whatever you can to look after your vehicle at this time of the year will reduce chances of breaking down and, above all, will keep both you and others safer when you are out driving in treacherous road conditions.
To help you achieve this, we’ve listed some tips below to help you maintain your vehicle through the long winter months.
Tip 1: Service
If you haven’t already had your car serviced this year, now is absolutely the time to do so. Take advantage of garage “winter check” deals and get your car booked in in readiness for the winter. Regular servicing and maintenance checks will rule out all manner of problems that cold and ice can cause and will save you money on expensive repair bills and car recovery costs if you break down.
Tip 2: Battery
Your battery is under increased pressure during winter months not just because of having to combat freezing temperatures but also because it is having to work so much harder to operate lights, windscreen wipers, heating and blower systems. Ensure your battery is in good condition, fully charged and consider replacing it if it is ageing. A healthy battery will get you from A to B and will rule out any risk of ending up stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere with no power.
Tip 3: Tyres
Consider changing from summer to winter tyres – a common practice on the continent and an excellent safeguard against that first smattering of ice or snow on the roads when before you know it, roads are in gridlock because vehicles cannot cope with the slippery conditions. At the very least ensure you check your tyres for general wear and tear, correct pressure and tread depth. 1.6mm is the legal minimum but in winter months at least 3mm is advised by motoring breakdown agencies.
Tip 4: Lights
Salt, slush, ice, grit and general grime on the roads will swiftly leave a film on lights, indicators and reflectors reducing visibility and putting both you and other road users at risk. Be sure to wipe them down frequently with a damp cloth, checking there are no cracks or blown bulbs in the process.
Tip 5: Heating System and Air Con
It’s great during the summer months to keep your heating system off, conserve on energy and drive with your windows down. But come winter and you need to check your air con doesn’t have faults, or your radiator doesn’t have a leak. Remember the heating system not only controls the temperature of the car but also operates the defrost function on both your front and rear windscreens. If this stops working, your vision will be so restricted that your vehicle will not be safe to drive. So be sure to check everything is in full working order before the temperatures drop.
Tip 6: Anti-freeze
Always make sure your radiator is topped up to the right level with anti-freeze – not water! Without this most basic of care, your engine is highly likely to freeze as temperatures drop. This could cause huge internal pressure and is likely to cause severe damage to your engine.
Tip 7: Windscreen Wipers
Frequently forgotten in that all-important care for your vehicle are windscreen wipers. In snow or freezing temperatures, before you know it they are frozen to the windscreen! Prizing them off will damage them irreversibly so be gentle on them and use de-icer or a little warm water to release them. It’s not worth attempting to operate them as in doing so you may well blow a fuse curtailing any travel plans for that day.
During extremely low evening temperatures, consider covering your windscreen at night with a custom-made cover or an old blanket. This will help keep both the windscreen and wipers free from ice and will make for a speedier departure in the morning.
And whilst still on the topic of windscreens and wipers, invest in quality screen wash suitable for extreme temperatures and conditions. The initial outlay may be more than for a cheaper alternative, but it will be money well spent and may ultimately save you on expensive repair bills.
Tip 8: Car Washes
Winter weather conditions can swiftly take their toll on your car’s bodywork with road salt a known contributory factor to rusting. Plan ahead and give your car a good quality wash and wax before the worst of the weather sets in: this will give your car some protection from the elements and will help prevent against rust. Continue to wash your vehicle frequently, removing grime and salt from your paintwork. In doing so, you will keep your car in pristine condition for far longer.
Learn More with PSD Codax
We hope the above tips will have given you some useful, easy to implement pointers as to how best to look after your car through the winter months. Keeping cars clean and healthy is a big passion for us at PSD Codax. We’ve been developing market leading access control systems for the forecourt trade for over 25 years. Our customers range from the major oil companies, forecourt operators, and leading supermarket chains around the world, to the regional and individually-owned car wash operators in your neighbourhood.
For an informal discussion on how we can support you and your customers in caring for your vehicle, please get in touch with us today.