There’s no doubt that the winter can take a toll on cars and vans of all makes and models. Particularly if you have an older vehicle, however, preparing well for the colder months and doing regular checks can save a lot of hassle.
The team at White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex have been getting together their list of ways to make sure your car gets through the winter with little or no problem. Most of these tips here are simple things you can do yourself and should make a big difference.
One of the big issues that we see with cars during the winter is the state of the tyres. When the roads get icy and perhaps we have a bit of snowfall, you naturally expect your grip on the road to be a little reduced. It can be dangerous if your tread isn’t deep enough and may even cause an accident.
There’s a simple way to check the tread of your tyres. Take a 20 pence piece and place it in the grooves. The edge of the coin is roughly 2mm so if you can’t see this your tyre is fine. If you can, it’s worth getting down to the garage to have the tyre swapped for a new one.
The other thing you should also check on regularly is that you have enough tyre pressure. You can do this at your local petrol station or, better still, invest in a portable tyre pressure kit.
Another issue we see with cars of all ages is oil levels that are too low. This is something of a blind spot for modern motorists, though we're not sure why.
The oil is there to help your car engine work properly and lubricate the parts. Lack of oil means those parts start grating against each other, causing wearing which may then lead to a breakdown. If your oil has fallen below the minimum level, top it up to avoid the potential for problems over the winter.
Travelling during the winter can cause all sorts of issues, not least making the windscreen dirty. There are two things you need to take a look at here. The first is whether your screen wash, which is located under the bonnet, needs replenishing. The last thing you want to be is in a storm and unable to clear the dirt from your windscreen.
The other thing to look at is the state of your windscreen wipers. Put them on and see if they are doing their job properly or check the rubber to make sure it is not torn or worn down. If your wipers are leaving smears, it’s relatively cheap and easy to swap them over.
Most people don’t realise they can be fined if their lights aren’t working properly. With the nights drawing in and some poor visibility conditions around, making sure your lights operate not only keeps you safe but other road users too.
This is another simple job you should undertake regularly. Simply get someone one to check the outside of your car as you turn on the various lights (don’t forget the fog lights). Bulbs are fairly cheap and most are easy to replace if you check in your manual.
Unfortunately, we can’t predict when we’re going to have a car breakdown. It’s always important to be prepared, especially during the winter, however.
First, make sure you always have your mobile phone with you so you can contact emergency services. You should have a warning triangle in the boot of your car which you can use to warn other road users if you have broken down in an awkward place.
During the winter, it’s a good idea to have water, some food, warm blankets and clothing in case you are stuck waiting for the breakdown service to arrive.
Most people have a service when they get their MOT. If this is close to autumn or winter, you don’t need to worry. If you have an older car or even a classic, you may want to think about having an extra service before the colder months set in, however, just to be sure.
If you notice any changes in your engine or the handling of your car leading up to winter, however, you should always have it checked out by a mechanic, especially if an engine warning light comes on.
If you are worried that your car isn’t quite ready for winter and want to have it checked over, contact White’s Bodyworks in West Sussex to book an appointment with our specialist team.