Some car maintenance, like changing the oil regularly, is the same no matter what time of year it is. However, you should engage in seasonal car maintenance as well. Here are several maintenance tips for car owners this winter. These tips will improve the performance of your car, make it safer on the road, and may even save you money.
Colder weather is a consequence of shorter days, and many drivers neglect to consider how driving when there’s less daylight makes them less safe. Driving with the lights on is a minimum. Driving with the running lights on when there is daylight also makes you safer, especially during foggy or snowy conditions. You also need to make the car’s lights as bright as possible.
Check that the bulbs are working before winter starts. If the headlights are foggy or turning yellow, you can replace them or try to restore them with a restoration kit. Remove snow from the headlights before you start driving and clear away any mud or salty road gunk from the headlights.
If the temperature where you live is regularly below freezing, you’ll want to put winter tyres on your car. They stay flexible at low temperatures, improving traction whether the ground is merely cold or snowy. In any case, you’ll want to check the tyre pressure as temperatures fall. Under-inflated tyres will wear faster and have an increased risk of tread separation. It will also handle differently when you’re already facing more treacherous road conditions. Check the tyre pressure regularly and add air if you need it. When the weather warms up, you may want to let a little air out.
If your treads are getting thin, go ahead and have new tyres put on the car.
Most car batteries have trouble running during the summer. Have your battery checked with a volt test before the cold weather sets in or look at new car batteries from reliable online retailrs such as Hardwarexpress. While it is annoying to be stranded during the summer, it can be deadly to be left stranded in a cold parking lot overnight. You may need to add water to the battery. Maintenance free batteries don’t have water added to them, but there is a window on the top that tells you if it is fully charged – check the rating before winter comes. Even if everything seems fine, go ahead and get a battery replaced once it is showing signs of weakness.
This is all aside from checking if the defrosters in the car and climate control work. Turn on the defroster and make sure it works so you can get it fixed before you find yourself idling while waiting for iced over windows that won’t defrost. Just to be safe, have an old-fashioned ice scraper in the car, too.
We know to change the car oil regularly. What many don’t appreciate is that the car coolant, the antifreeze, suffers the same chemical deterioration over time as your car’s oil. You’ll probably want to replace the coolant as winter starts, but checking for leaks and ensuring the levels aren’t low is a minimum. Some mechanics suggest having a 50-50 mix of coolant and water in the radiator to lower its freezing point. In very cold conditions, a 70/30 antifreeze to water ratio can be used, but that’s rarely needed for the UK. Do not use a higher ratio than this or you’ll risk damaging the engine.
If you’re in the shop for any reason, have the radiator and heater hoses checked. You can check their condition yourself by squeezing them. If they are overly soft, brittle or dripping, have them replaced.
When winter comes, you’ll want to make a habit of keeping the gas tank full. First, this ensures that you have gas to keep the engine running and you warm if you’re stranded in bad weather or just bad traffic. Second, it may prevent water that has accumulated in the tank from freezing inside the fuel pump. Third, if there’s any storm so bad that fuel deliveries become difficult, you’ll still have fuel to get where you need to go. Keeping the washer fluid reservoirs full will ensure that you can clear off messy road debris, so you can safely see where you’re going.
You’ll probably want to check the windshield wiper blades while you test the wiper fluid sprayers work. If the blades start to miss sections of glass or streak, get them replaced.
Let the Car Breathe
Check the car’s exterior. Remove leaves, twigs and other debris that is clogging the air plenum near the windshield. Look for gaps in the door frame and seals you may want fixing so that water doesn’t collect there and cause rust. Also, check under the car for any loose hardware you want to tighten up or have fixed so something doesn’t break off if you hit a snow drift. If you’re getting the oil changed, replace the oil filter and air filters while you’re at it. This will improve fuel efficiency, save you money on petrol, as well as maximize engine performance.
If you manage to follow these few winter safety tips in this article and prep your car properly, the chance of something going terribly wrong will be reduced.