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Post winter checks every car owner should do

Post winter checks every car owner should do

On a cold winter’s day the last thing most folk need is to have to go outside and give their car a once-over, yet it is necessary. Sensible motorists check their vehicles all year round but in the dark months this task may be neglected. That’s why, as we begin to slowly leave winter behind, now is the time to ensure the car is ready for what we hope are brighter, warmer days ahead.

Brighter Days To Come

It might be time for a full service and a MOT test, in which case owners will want to book appointments at their local servicing and MOT centre. There are however some jobs that can be attended to at home and if anything comes to light they can advise the professionals accordingly. Here are a few suggestions that will help ensure your car is ready for Spring:

On The Outside

Tyres

Those vital rubber hoops take a beating in the winter so it’s worth examining them closely for any sidewall damage, bulges and, it goes without saying, tread depth. Worn tyres are dangerous at any time so, if in doubt, refer yourself to your local tyre supplier or garage.

If they are looking good then include the routine task of checking tyre air pressures, topping up as necessary. Low pressures will mean the rubber will be less efficient and will certainly increase fuel consumption. Don’t forget there’s a spare in the boot too that may never have seen the light of day. Make sure it is good condition and that the locking-wheel-nut key, jack and wheel-brace are to hand, because you never know.

Keep It Clean

Winter weather and foul roads make that lovely bright motor look like a moving mud pile very quickly. Treat your motor to a wash, with plenty of clean water, starting from the roof and working down so that the excess flows down the car, loosening dirt. Always use a good quality car shampoo and washing mitt, rinsing often to avoid any scratching. The two-bucket method is good; one for the shampoo and one to rinse the mitt. Wax the bodywork if required.

When that job is done, check the windscreen and rear wipers for a smooth clearing action, fitting new if necessary or get your servicing professional to do it.

On the Inside

Air Conditioning

Running air-conditioning all year round is recommended but many people don’t use it in the winter, even though it helps with demisting and the like. A stagnant system can harbour germs at worst or not provide efficient cooling when it is needed. If in doubt get the system recharged by your local servicing garage. It’s not expensive. Consider having it done with a service.

A Clean Interior

You’ve washed the outside, now clean the inside. Give the upholstery a vacuum and even a clean with a suitable product to help freshen the interior. Vacuum the carpets and have general clean round, not forgetting the inside of the windows.

Leather needs additional care so nourish it it carefully with a suitable product, to keep it clean and supple.

Under The Bonnet

Antifreeze

All cars these days have sealed coolant systems. That’s not say however that incidental damage or simple old age can’t take its toll. The water/antifreeze mix not only protects the car’s engine from freezing in the cold winter temperatures, it also protects the power-plant from over-heating on very hot days (we do get them now and then) thanks to a high boiling point. If you don’t know how to check the coolant level refer to the car’s handbook to identify the reservoir and check the level against the markings. Do it when the engine is cold.

It’s All In The Handbook

That same handbook will also identify where the oil dipstick is. Again, check the level against the markings and top up with the right grade of oil, or ask your garage to do it. Further, also check the brake fluid reservoir level and the hoses and belts for any cracking or obvious damage. Refill the windscreen washer bottle with a suitable mixture, not washing-up liquid! Your local motor factor or even the supermarket will have the right stuff.

Winter woes affect us all and the car outside is no exception. Treat it well and when we can finally leave the house without freezing, it will be ready for duty.

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