Just as you are breaking out your winter coats, sweaters, stocking up the firewood, and making sure that you, your family and your home is ready for the winter; do the same for your car and you will not regret it. You may not realize it but attending to those small strange sounds, investing in new tyres and wipers may just be the difference between you and your family returning home safely and not being stranded on the side of the road in plunging temperatures.
Typically, a battery’s life ends at 5 years. So it is highly recommended that you change your battery in the 4th year to avoid the bother of being stuck on the side of the motorway in sub zero temperatures. Additionally, in order to reduce the load on the battery, it is recommended that the use of electrical systems be kept to a minimum. Turn off all electrical systems, before you shut the engine and try to keep as many electrical systems as possible switched off when trying to start the engine. If the engine does not start immediately, wait thirty seconds before you try again, and do so only with short five-second bursts. This will ensure that the engine is not pushed too far and it can recover between attempts. Another good practice during the winter is to check your battery at least once every week and getting it charged as and when, required. Do the same if you do not use the car for most of the weekend. Check the battery, and preferably give it a little charge to revive it.
Whether the climate is hot or cold you need to ensure the correct ratio of antifreeze in your engine. This will keep your engine running in climates as cold as -34F. Anti-freeze does cost a few pounds but don’t be penny wise pound foolish, because if you skimp on the antifreeze you may well be looking at bills of several hundred pounds to repair your frozen or worse cracked engine. If your car was built in the last few years, it is likely that it has long life anti-freeze. But just to be on the safer sides, pull in at any auto parts store, pick up an antifreeze tester, and make sure that the composition of the mixture in the radiator is correct (50:50). If it is not, just adjust it accordingly. In the event, the color of the antifreeze appears rusty or is dirty you need to drain the antifreeze, wash the engine and re-fill your vehicle with fresh antifreeze.
Ensure that the windscreen washing liquid is sufficient and appropriate for the cold weather to avoid it from freezing and blowing up. Remember, if it blows up it will most likely take your wipers out at the same time as more often than not, they share the same fuse.
It is recommended that you maintain a separate set of heavy-duty winter wiper blades that can clean off ice and snow. If your wipers are damaged in the slightest, invest in a new set.
Last, but not least – Tyres
Most important is to check your tyre thread. If it is less that 2mm, you have to turn them in for a new set. All weather tyres will work to a point, but I would recommend a set of winter tyres (e.g. Bridgestone Blizzaks). Choose a tyre that has great traction, which is able to handle black ice and other slippery conditions. Of course, what are great tyres if you do not maintain the pressure? So conduct regular pressure checks and keep your tyres properly inflated to ascertain the best possible contact between your tires and the road.
So start now, and do not wait for the first snowflakes or the temperatures to drop. Remember, the early bird gets the worm.