Winter isn’t easy on any of us, let’s be honest. Depending on the climate you live in, you might experience heaps of snow, icy temperatures, or terrible driving conditions, or maybe even all of the above. Whatever your winter experience is, most of us know that driving or keeping your vehicle in ship shape can be hard during the winter months. For this reason, we’re guiding you through the basics of prepping your car for winter, making it through the season safely, and then smoothly sliding into Spring.
Prepping for winter
It’s inevitable, winter is coming, as it does every year. Unless we all decide to move to a remote tropical island, we’re stuck with the winter months. So when it comes time to tackle your pre-winter checklist, make sure that you add a full car service to your list of things to get done. It’s best to bring your car in every Autumn to get this completed by a professional. However, if you feel that you are confident in doing this on your own, here’s a basic list you should work through each autumn.
- Check the battery: Extreme temperatures like bitter cold can be hard on your battery, and extra cold days may result in you not being able to start your car at all. The last thing you want is to not be able to start your car when you’re late for work or need to get to an appointment. It’s therefore a good idea to check the strength of the battery before winter hits and see if you need a replacement or at least a good charge. Here’s a good guide for testing your car battery.
- Change your tyres: Especially for those of us in slippery, icy or extra cold environments, getting new tyres can be super important. Old tyres can be quite dangerous, as their wear means they won’t grip the road as well, and they’re more likely to puncture or burst. If it’s slippery during winter months, you will be more likely to lose control of the vehicle. If you’re due for new tyres, make sure to get a tyre change before the winter months hit.
- Top up antifreeze: Keeping your coolant and antifreeze levels topped up is really important when the temperatures drop. Use this guide for topping up these fluids.
- Check your headlights: The days are getting darker, which means you’ll be using your headlights more often. Even just a small loss in brightness can present a big hazard to driving, and you’ll want to make sure you are seen easily by other drivers. If any bulbs are out, replace them or bring them in to be replaced. You’ll also want to thoroughly clean the headlights, as they can easily get foggy or dimmed with dirt and grime. Simply running your car through a car wash won’t clear up the headlights, so try these tips to really brighten them up.
- Have an emergency kit: Keep a kit with some canned food, a blanket, a shovel, salt and torches in your car’s boot. It’s also a good idea to have jumper cables and even a car battery charger, in case you are stuck somewhere with a dead battery. It might seem a bit excessive, but we all know it’s better to be over prepared in case of an emergency, and a good emergency kit will keep you safe until help comes. You can also purchase emergency kits and add to it as suits your area’s climate – here are some good options.
- Clean it up: Snow or rain mixed with dirt, sand or salt makes for an extremely damaging concoction to your car. Send your car to a vehicle groomer, or take the time to do it yourself regularly during the winter. If you wait until Spring to clean all the winter muck off your car, you’ll have a harder time, and it may have done some damage to your car.
- Regularly check fluids: Running out of windshield wiper fluid while driving through a snowstorm on a highway sounds like nightmare, but can easily happen. Keep on top of your car fluids, literally, to avoid a situation like that. Besides wiper fluid, make sure to check the other main car fluids often as well, like your oil and power steering.
Prepping for Spring
- Clean the undercarriage: Even if you’ve kept your car relatively clean through the winter, it will still have a buildup of road salt, sand or slush, especially underneath the car. Spend some extra time on the undercarriage in a do it yourself car wash, or ask for the extra service with a professional. While you’re at it, we highly recommend a total spring cleaning of your car’s interior as well, since you might as well get your car sparkling and fresh for the warmer months!
- Check the air conditioning system: Most of us don’t bother to check to see if the air con works until that first super hot day. But, by then all of the car air conditioning service appointments will likely be booked up, and you’ll be forced to wait for that much needed cold air in your car! Make an appointment early if the system isn’t working, and make sure to top up any fluids before you head out on a long, Spring drive.
- Check wiper blades: Your wiper blades have taken a toll over the winter, and likely will need to be changed out. The end of winter is the perfect time to replace wiper blades and make sure the mechanisms are working fine.
By breaking up your car’s maintenance throughout the winter like we’ve demonstrated above, and staying on top of the big issues, you’ll safely make it through the season just fine. Spring might seem a long way away, but following these steps will keep your car running smoothly and we’ll be knocking on Spring’s door in no time.