Vehicle Maintenance Tips For Winter
Tuesday, 03 September 2013
Get Ready, Get Set, GO!....... Slowly Even though we are still enjoying the sun at the moment winter is just around the corner and chances are your vehicle needs some preparation or preventive maintenance.
So how can you prepare for the cold conditions ahead?
Before you drive long distances prepare. There are some simple things to remember that you can do to help with any situation that can arise when driving in winter conditions.
- These items are cheap, sensible and can really help if you are caught out.
- Check the weather report and along your route
- If you have one, fully charge your mobile phone
- A winter driving kit
- A Torch with fresh batteries
- A small durable shovel and brush
- Traction mats
- Ice scraper
- Jump leads
- Blanket and gloves
- Window cleaning fluid
- A First-Aid kit
- Spare bulbs and fuses
Before setting off if you are not 100% confident in your vehicles condition you should inspect your vehicle. Ensure that your tyres are correctly inflated, fluid levels are full, front and rear lights are functioning correctly, all belts and hoses are secure and in good condition.
Let’s go over some checks that should be carried out when travelling any distance long or short in poor conditions.
Check and clean them as quite often they may just need cleaning rather than replacing, use with a good cleaning solution or vinegar. Replace worn wiper blades as soon as possible and keep some washer fluid in the boot.
Check the tyres tread condition and tyre pressure. You can easily tell when a tyre is worn by a bald strip. The legal limit for a tyre is 1.6 millimetres of tread. Tyres should be changed before reaching this limit as performance, handling and even fuel consumption is hindered. You can opt for winter tyres at the time of having the tyres changed. Winter tyres reduce the risk of skidding or sliding, they are designed to perform well in snow and ice and produce better traction.
Don’t forget that the only part of your vehicle that will keep you from sliding is your tyres.
Just as you would at any part of the year make sure your tyres are properly inflated, aligned and replaced when necessary.
When driving off from any spaces where you have been parked for at least a few hours visually check to see if there is any fluid or oil on the ground. Oil will appear black or dark brown, Antifreeze is usually a yellow, green, blue or red/pink colour. A reddish colour fluid could be transmission or power steering fluid.
Always check fluids before leaving on a lengthy drive. The vehicles fluids are easily depleted as your engine works harder in colder weather. Check, top up or replace any fluids, this can include brake, transmission, coolant, power steering and windscreen washer fluid. Also do not forget to check your engine oil.
Running out of windscreen fluid is an annoyance at the best of times and even worse when driving in wet, salty, gritty, dirty, muddy or snowy conditions. Always top up the washer fluid when possible Keeping the reservoir full with washer fluid and in winter use a winter fluid.
Is your car pulling to one side? It might be time for an alignment.
Are you breaks soft or making any noises? You shouldn’t ignore any signs that your brakes are not functioning properly. Not only could this lead to an accident but can also lead to more costs.
Is your car showing signs of a lack of power or performing differently? It could be a sign that there are other problems. Investigate these as soon as possible.
Doors & Locks:
You can avoid stuck or frozen doors by using a lubricant or Vaseline type grease on the hinges and car door rubber seals, a motor factor can recommend what you need. It's also wise to invest in a can of lock de-icer for when the door locks are frozen, store it in your house.
Your windscreen is one of the most overlooked integral parts of your vehicle.
It not only protects you from anything that may travel in your direction such as stones on the road but also accounts for massive 20 percent of the structural integrity of your vehicle.
Before setting off make sure you check all of your lights. Make sure that every light is working properly visible to other motorists. You can also easily tell if there is condensation inside the bulb housing, this is a tell tale sign that the bulb is no longer sealed and may fail sooner than later.
One of the most common causes of a cold-weather breakdown is a weak or dead battery. A good indication of your battery being weak or needing to be replaced is that when the starter motor begins to start the engine, it is slow or the headlights dim when the engine speed drops.
A key component to check is your alternator belt. If the alternator belt snaps your battery will not be recharged and will soon fail. You can service your battery by having it “load tested” and also having the batteries terminals cleaned. Winter driving can put a strain on your car batteries system so this should be checked.
As it is recommended, you should change the cooling systems fluid every two to three years. You can see our How to Change Coolant Guide here. Check for any leaks in the cooling system by visually inspecting any connecting hoses or pipes. The engines thermostat should be replaced every two to three years or by the manufacturer’s requirements.
To avoid any fuel lines freezing up, keep your tank at least half full to reduce condensation.
Now that your vehicle has the green light, head out and drive carefully!