Winter Car Care Tips
With the depths of Winter fast approaching, and the colder temperatures already arriving throughout the UK; we at Carsnip have already started our annual ‘Winter Procedures’ to make sure our vehicles are in tip-top condition for dealing with the cold weather. We want our users to be able to do the same though, to stay as safe as possible when the Tarmac turns icy, so here follows a quick checklist for the most important things to check/do!
1. TYRES TYRES TYRES
Tyres are the only part of your car that actually makes contact with the road (or they definitely should be)! Therefore in less than ideal conditions these should be checked to make sure you have sufficient tread – the legal minimums are 1.6mm across 3/4 of the tread – BUT in winter this should really be above 4mm. The more tread you have the better you will tend to fare in rainy/ snowy/icy conditions. If you have less than 4mm of tread on any tyres on your car and you are considering using them through winter, change them.
Alternatively, consider having a set of winter tyres for the cold months – these tyres are designed to perform better in cold conditions (at the expense of performance in dry and warm times). You can either have a spare set of allows to hold your winter tyres for an easy biannual changeover, or lots of tyre places will just swap your tyres over for you for a small fee. Some will even store whatever set isn’t in use for you.
For more details on tyre choice, see our Carsnip Basics guide.
Batteries hold electrical current, and are susceptible to the cold weather. The cold can cause battery degradation, which increases the likelihood of your car being unable to start when you turn it on.
Simply put, check your battery health by either repurchasing a battery testing kit, or by whipping your car into a garage*.
Additionally, if you intend not to use for vehicle for an extended period of time (particularly during colder temperatures) consider purchasing a trickle charger.
First, check the condition of your windscreen wipers. As a general rule these should be changed every 6-12 months (dependant on use), but if you have been noticing smearing on your screen when using them then it is time to consider replacing them. Wiper sets can often be acquired for as little as £10-15 (although some brands are more expensive). Visibility needs to be at maximum during colder temperatures as treacherous conditions can require immediate and clear responses.
Also remember to check your screen wash – not just that you keep the tank full to reduce chance of smearing (for the same reasons as above), but also check the freezing point of your chosen screen wash. Some are lower than others, and frozen washer jets can be potential dangerous.
4. VISIBILITY (AGAIN)
This time from a different perspective; making sure you are as visible as possible to other road users. Simply put, check all the lights on your vehicle and replace any bulbs that are blown or dim, and keep the lights themselves clean! Being as visible as possible in icy conditions reduced likelihood of accident as drivers can see and avoid each other!
5. KEEP IT COOL AND SMOOTH
This one might seem counterintuitive, but even in freezing temperatures, the engine needs to be able to stay cool during use. This means coolant, which includes antifreeze. Ensuring your engine is the correct temperature and well lubricated (by checking your oil is at the right level) means that it will survive the harsh conditions most effectively.
To complete this one is easier than it sounds. Make sure both your coolant and oil levels are correct and topped up, and have been replaced recently as part of your scheduled servicing. If you are unsure, you can have these things checked at a garage*. You can also buy an antifreeze testing kit for as little as £5.
*Lots of garages offer either free or cheap ‘Winter Car Checks’. If you are uncomfortable doing any of the above yourself, or simply don’t have the time, then we strongly recommend allowing a professional to do it for you. The relatively minimal cost (or potentially zero cost) is most definitely worth it for peace of mind.
We would always recommend keeping the following in your vehicle during the winter:
- De-icer spray
- Ice Scraper
- A Tow Rope
- Jump Leads or a Battery Booster
- A Blanket, Warm Coat and Boots
- Water and Food in case you get stranded!
Things like hazard triangles and high-visibility clothing and a first aid kit are useful all year round, and are all great additions to your boot in case of emergency.
Look after your car, and it will be better equipped to look after you in return. Stay safe this winter, from all of us here at Carsnip.
Carsnip is the UK’s largest used car search engine, with over 500,000 dealer sold used cars across the UK. We operate a natural language search engine, to help you find your perfect used car, and narrow down the choice by what’s most important to you.
About the Author
Sam Wardega is Carsnip.com’s very own in house car guru and journalist.
A lifetime Petrolhead who started with Hot Wheels aged 2, and now just spends his life savings on owning his dream cars. As they say, boys don’t stop playing with toys; they just get bigger and more expensive!