Not only do you need to protect yourself in the cold winter weather, but you need to look after your car as well. Some simple maintenance tips will ensure you aren’t stranded because of a breakdown, and our valuable advice will keep everybody travelling with you safe if disaster does strike while you are out in your car.
Visit your garage
If you don’t know the first things about car maintenance, take your car to a garage to get it serviced. Many garages will give you a free or discounted ‘winter check’ at this time of year, so take advantage of any special offers you can find. This is safer than taking on any jobs you don’t feel equipped to do yourself, or by not bothering at all.
If you are dealing with car maintenance yourself, you need to do the following.
1. Check your battery, and if it needs replacing, do it immediately. At the very least, you need jump start cables if your battery does go flat on a cold day, but most batteries need replacing every five years or so anyway.
2. Top up your engine reservoir with a 50/50 diluted mix of water and antifreeze.
3. Check your tires, and if they are in poor condition, replace them with winter tires, as they provide added grip when you are travelling in icy and wet conditions.
4. Check your lights. The nights are drawing in so you will be driving around in the dark more than usual. Not only do you need visibility ahead of you, other drivers need to be able to see your car, including your reflectors and indicators. Replace any broken bulbs immediately.
5. Add antifreeze to your screen washer fluid. Your windscreen will be getting dirtier than normal at this time of year, so you don’t want to run the risk of your washer fluid freezing.
Consider the following protective measures, for you and your car.
1. Car parking shelters are perfect for protecting your car from the winter chill. If you do need to park your car on the street, purchase a water-resistant cover to add extra protection in the nasty weather.
2. Check your insurance and breakdown covers, and consider taking out comprehensive coverage in both. This will give you financial and practical protection, as well as peace of mind, when you venture out into the winter cold.
3. Stock your car with essential items in the event of a breakdown. This should include a blanket, shovel, torch, food and drink, ice scraper and a de-icer. An in-car phone charger is also handy to ensure your phone is always fully charged in the event of an emergency.
4. Purchase a sat-nav. If you don’t already have one, it’s worth the expense. Despite your road sense, you might get caught in a blizzard, reducing your visibility. Considering you may also be travelling over Christmas, you don’t want to get lost in unfamiliar surroundings. The friendly voice of a Sat-nav will guide you to where you need to be.
For extra protection, don’t travel when you know the weather is going to be particularly bad. Always check the forecasts before a long journey as an added measure. If you do need to venture out, make sure your car is roadworthy, using some of the advice we gave you above. Safety matters, so take care of yourself and those who travel with you.