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5 Important Winter Checks For Your Car

5 Important Winter Checks For Your Car

Winter brings with it it’s own special set of problems; dark days, bad weather, low temperatures and sometimes difficult driving conditions. Therefore, in the same way that we perhaps take more care of ourselves, so that car that stands outside in all weathers could do with a little love too. Here’s how the average owner can help keep the car in good order to take on Winter’s woes:

Screen Nozzles & Screen Wash

One neglected area is the windscreen washer bottle. Usually tucked away down in the engine bay with a handy filler near the top, many drivers don’t know about its fluid level and condition until they washers run dry. Simply put, in the winter, we use much more screen wash (these days including the rear window too) so it pays to regularly top up the bottle with more fluid. This should be a mix of water and washer fluid, the latter designed not to freeze and to remove the road grease that accumulates. Ensure the bottle and hoses are in good order with no leaks.

Check the washer nozzles too: They can get blocked quite easily; clear them with a pin. Also, check alignment: There is no point in having washers that shoot the fluid over the top of car, obliging the person behind to put their wipers on. Nozzles are easily adjusted (with the same pin); aim them for maximum coverage. If in doubt, ask your local car servicing professionals to do it, perhaps as an add-on to the regular car maintenance. They, or you, can also check for cracks or chips in the windscreen glass, both of which weaken the structure.

The Lights

This one’s a must-do. Every week, perhaps with a family member to help, deploy all the lights and indicators to ensure they are all working as they should. If possible, (this might be a job for the local garage), point the car at a plain wall or the garage door and check that the headlights appear to be dipping from main beam as they should. If they are out if alignment they will dazzle oncoming drivers. Again your local car maintenance specialist can attend to this.

Fluids

Winter makes engines work harder so always check, in good light, the levels in the radiator expansion tank and the clutch and brake fluid bottles. They should be on the marked line when the engine is cold. While under the bonnet, check all the, at least, visible hoses for any leaks or wear and tear. Cooling systems are sealed units these days so any leaks should be apparent under the car. Note: Car air-conditioning units can drain a little water under the vehicle; this is not a fault.

Contact With The Road

Good tyres push road surface water aside and bite into snow and ice to aid grip. That’s what all those little grooves and channels are for. Tyres are not an area that can be skimped on; always buy the best affordable and consider switching to full-blown winter tyres in the cold season.

Either way, check tyres regularly for air-pressure (manufacturers recommend specific pressures for a reason), damage, bulges and of course tread depth. Worn tread means less grip, as does uneven wear. These rubber circles are all that stands between the occupants and the road. Taking proper care means better safety.

Fuel

Whether petrol, diesel, electricity or hydrogen, sometimes the tank or battery pack needs filling. In Winter getting to a destination without issue is even more important, that’s why it makes sense to top up the tank more often. Running on empty down a dark county lane makes no sense at all; keeping the tank nearer full than empty is a good idea even if it means more forecourt visits.

Regularly planned professional car servicing ensure that all these things are checked but motorists have a duty of care to ensure that their vehicles are functioning as they should be. DIY checks at home are a pain, especially in the cold, but a few minutes a week to attend to these things isn’t so bad is it? Wear warmer clothes, by the way.

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