With winter approaching, a few minutes’ maintenance could keep your car healthy and your family safe through the worst the weather has to offer.
Check out these 10 steps for winter weather car care that will keep your car healthy and your family safe.
10 steps to prepare your car for winter
Plummeting temperatures and poor weather means the number of breakdowns are likely to increase throughout the winter months.
So before the worst of the weather takes hold, here are our top tips for winter weather car care that will keep you safe on the road.
1. Prepare for your journey
Before you head out, make sure that you have prepared for your journey. Properly warm up your car and clean all windows, including de-icing if necessary. Organise a set of snow chains if heading out into the snowy regions. Have your phone charged and charger with you, and ensure you have enough fuel in your car. Always allow plenty of time to get to your destination to avoid having to rush.
2. Get your car serviced
Regular servicing and maintenance is always key to keeping your car running at its best. As part of a routine service, many components like brakes and suspension are checked for their operation and safety. Being aware of any issues with your car gives you the opportunity to get it fixed before it becomes a hazard.
3. Check the battery
While batteries usually have an effective life of about 5 years, the colder weather can demand more power resulting in reduced output. The increased use of lights, heater and fan can all be factors o place your battery under additional strain. If you are having problems starting your car, this could be a sign that your battery is on its way out.
4. Top up engine coolant with antifreeze
As a general rule, engine coolant should be a 50/50 mix of antifreeze (coolant concentrate) and water. The correct mix of antifreeze will prevent your car from overheating in the warmer months and freezing during the colder months. When topping your cooling system up with water during the year, it will become diluted. This could mean that car may not be running effectively at the right temperature.
5. Check the condition of your tyres
As a car’s tyres are key to both steering and braking, it is essential they are in good condition. Take a good look around each of the tyres. Make sure that there aren’t any cuts, tears, bulges or worn patches on any of them. Also check for stones and nails in the tyres, as well as any damage to the side wall. A good minimum tread thickness is 3mm for the winter months.
6. Keep your windscreen clean
Keeping your windscreen clean will give you clear visibility of the road. Clean the inside of your windscreen with window cleaner, and have a cloth handy to wipe away any condensation. Keep your windscreen free from chips and cracks as these can grow in the colder weather.
7. Check your windscreen wipers
To see if your windscreen wipers are in good condition, run your finger down the blades to check for any nicks and tears. If you notice that they don’t wipe your windscreen properly or leave streaks across the screen, then it’s time to replace them. Make sure you keep your windscreen washers topped up with the appropriate mix of water and fluid.
8. Check that lights are operating and clean
Checking that all your lights are working will keep both you and other motorists safer on the road. The winter months tend to have lower visibility (think rain and fog) and poorer lighting conditions, so having all your lights working can make a difference. Make sure that all lights, indicators and rear reflectors are clean, and that there are no cracked lenses.
9. Drive according to the road and weather conditions
Plan appropriately for when weather conditions are compromised. This could even mean deciding not to take unnecessary trips. Check the weather forecast, travel news and safest routes before you leave for your destination. When on the road give yourself extra distance between any vehicles you are following. Remember that 4WD and AWD are great in snow, but on the ice you can still easily loose control.
10. Other important areas
If you have a bit of motor know-how, check your brake pads, brake discs/rotors and brake fluid to ensure the brakes are fast and responsive. Ensure the fan belt and alternator drive belts are tight and not worn and that plugs and other leads are in good condition and secure. If you don’t feel confident making these checks, your local motor mechanic should be able to help.
You can also check out tips from Vic Roads for snow and winter driving.
Comprehensive breakdown cover is also a good idea to have, because let’s face it, no matter how much we plan ahead and prepare, breakdowns can still happen. And at this time of year, no one wants to be stranded out in the cold.
These winter weather car care and maintenance tips will keep your car healthy and running at its best during the colder months.
So take care of yourself and your family when travelling on the road to make sure everyone gets to their destination safely.