It’s been a strange year for obvious reasons and Winter seems to have come upon us all of a sudden. Fortunately for motorists the nation’s garages have stayed open for business and just as well, because it is the Winter season that catches out a lot of drivers who have failed to prepare their motor for the cold months ahead.
The nights are already drawing in so now is the time to ensure your car is ready for the dark days ahead by giving the vehicle a winter health check. To help, here are our five top suggestions:
Air-Con For Winter
Ait conditioning of one sort or another is almost a standard fitting in cars these days and we tend to take it for granted. As the weather cools down it may well be that the system is used less frequently so it pays to run the air-con for a short while periodically because it helps to keep the system in good order.
It’s not just for hot days either. At this time of year air conditioning helps to dehumidify the air and clear those steamed-up windows faster. Use it in conjunction with the heater. Further, and importantly over time, the refrigerant gas used in a car’s air conditioning system diminishes; this is especially true when the system isn’t used regularly. It is recommended that an air-con system is serviced and re-gassed every two years regardless. It doesn’t cost a lot and your local car servicing garage will be able to do the job for you; perhaps as part of the annual service.
Every one should know by now that good tyres save lives. To run a vehicle on poor or damaged rubber is asking for trouble. Worn tyres have little or even no traction on wet or snowy roads. Inspect tyres regularly for sidewall damage, tread depth and so on and ensure the tyre pressures are correct for the vehicle. If in doubt get professional help. Consider ordering a set winter tyres before the cold sets in. They really do work.
Check The Fluids
In Winter, drivers will need to use more windscreen washer fluid. Topping-up should form a part of the annual service but the tanks are not bottomless wells. Get a bottle of branded screen wash ready in the boot and make sure it is of good quality that can cope with very low temperatures. While doing a Winter check it is always worth checking brake and coolant levels too. If in doubt, check with the garage.
Get A Battery Check
A car’s battery is another one of those automotive items that just work behind the scenes without any fuss; until the day they don’t. Batteries last a long time but it doesn’t pay to leave it too long. Even if a car does not do a high mileage, the battery will still deteriorate over time.
In Winter especially the battery takes a bit of a pasting, running lights, heating and accessories. Left unattended, one day it will simply give up and it is the nature of these things that it will give up at the most inconvenient time. If a car’s battery is running down, lights will dim and starting will become more of an issue. Don’t get caught out. If it’s old, change it.
Always ensure that all the head, side and fog lamps are in perfect working order. Damaged or faulty lights are not only illegal, they are also dangerous. Over time light covers can get fogged or hazy and this will diminish their effectiveness. Make sure you can see and be seen.
Not all of the above tips require professional expertise but it is worth considering, if your annual service is not timed for the cold months, to have the car checked at the local garage for Winter effectiveness.
Finally, even though on our small island we are never very far from help, it is worth considering some form of emergency kit. This could contain a blanket or two, a torch that actually works and some foil sealed snacks. It’s not unknown to get trapped in snow-bound hold-ups, so, as any boy scout will tell you, be prepared.