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5 Essential Winter Checks For Your Car

When winter arrives, it’s important to make sure your car is in the best health possible. Lower temperatures increase demands on items such as the battery, and tyres in good condition become even more important when battling adverse road conditions such as snow, ice and water. Time spent checking certain key elements of your car will help keep you mobile during the winter months.

Check the following.

1. Battery

Winter places increased demands on your battery as you’ll be using lights, heated rear windows, electric mirrors and more as you navigate darker, colder road conditions.

A cold car and engine requires a battery in tip top condition to start it easily every time - especially if it’s iced up having been sitting outside all night.

If the engine sounds sluggish when you turn the key, or lights dim markedly when you switch on other electrical items, then your battery is vulnerable and may need replacing. If you have a flat battery at any time, have the cause investigated.

You could try charging it up if you own or have access to a charger, but if you’re in any doubt have a new one fitted. Car batteries last around five years depending on use; a local garage can test yours for you.

2. Tyres

As your only point of contact with the road, tyre condition is vital at any time and especially when road conditions deteriorate such as when wet and icy. It’s a legal requirement to maintain tyres at a tread depth of at least 1.5 mm across the surface all the way round, but 3 mm minimum is strongly advised.

It’s this sort of fact you need to memorise when you’re learning to drive and then put to use throughout your driving career.

You can check treads yourself using a simple gauge; if not your local garage or a tyre and exhaust centre can check for you. Also, inspect for general condition periodically - bulges and tears need swift attention.

3.  Anti-freeze

This is the fluid found in your car’s cooling system and needs to be at the correct level and concentration to do its job of cooling the engine. If the concentration is too weak, you run the risk of your car overheating because the fluid has frozen and isn’t circulating around the engine.

Check the level - it’s usually marked on the plastic expansion tank in the engine bay. A garage can check the concentration levels, and you should have this done before winter, especially if it’s been topped up at any time solely with water.

4. Screen wash

Keep the screen wash reservoir topped up with the correct mix of water and screen wash (it contains detergent and anti-freezing properties). Don’t overdo the mixture as your washer jets could get clogged, and don’t use antifreeze designed for the engine cooling system (as described above) in the washer bottle.

Finally, don’t forget to top up the reservoir for the rear wiper if fitted.

5. Lights

Regularly check that all your lights work including the number plate light (it’s an offence to have an unlit rear number plate), and clean them frequently so as to see and be seen.

It’s a good idea to keep a selection of spare bulbs in the car at all times.

Pre-winter check

It’s advisable to have your car ‘health checked’ before winter sets in. Some garages offer special deals on winter checks - see what’s being offered locally.

Finally, make sure your number plates are clean.Illegible number plates are an offence, and with number plate recognition cameras being used more and more police are tending to be stricter in enforcing this law.



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