Is your car ready for winter?

Bradley Jando | Thursday 3rd December 2020 4:40pm

Brake infographic- slow down

In the repeated words of a certain popular TV series, winter is coming. The question is, have you prepared your car for winter? You may assume that you don’t need to do anything to your car for winter – but it’s actually a time when it can be quite common for issues to arise.

A startling 25,945 serious injuries were reported due to road traffic accidents in 2019, and poor car maintenance contributes to a much larger number of overall collisions.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on this winter so you’re not caught out.

1) Tyres

The weather throughout the winter days tends to cycle between really cold and moderate. This variation in temperature causes the rubber in tyres to expand and contract which, in turn, can lead to the rubber splitting or changes in tyre pressure.

Be sure to check the tread depth on all of your tyres. This is a leading cause of collisions during winter, as excessively-worn tyres lead to aquaplaning. Now, even though the legal limit is 1.6mm, consider how deep most puddles are – usually much deeper than 1.6 mm, right? So be safe, check your tyres regularly, and get them changed at 3mm instead. This significantly improves your car’s grip on the road, making it safer for everyone.

2) Brakes

The stopping distance is already increased significantly in wet and icy weather, so pair this with worn brakes and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Make sure that you’re aware of how your brakes are behaving: if your car pulls to one side, your brakes feel spongy or unresponsive, or your brakes make strange noises, book an inspection with your local garage as soon as possible.

It’s worth remembering that if you’re having trouble with your brakes, you should try to avoid driving at fast speeds.

3) Battery

The cold weather makes it harder for batteries to work, because batteries rely on chemical reactions – reactions which are slowed when in a colder material.

As such, if you’ve got a battery that’s already on its way out, the turn to cold weather can be the final kicker. If your car takes a while to start, stalls unexpectedly, or stalls shortly after starting when you don’t apply the accelerator pedal, then it’s time to have your battery replaced.

Luckily, changing batteries is a relatively quick procedure and new car batteries are usually fairly affordable. Getting your battery inspected and swapped at your local Kwik Fit is a straightforward and relatively inexpensive job.

4) Engine

Your engine needs to be warm enough to provide an environment in which the fuel can be burned. When in cold conditions, it has to work significantly harder for the same performance, so make sure that all your engine fluids – particularly the antifreeze – are fully topped up.

5) Lights

This should go without saying, but make sure your lights all work properly! It feels like it gets dark as soon as we wake up when it’s winter, so properly-functioning headlamps, brake lights, fog lights, and indicators are absolutely essential. Not only can you get fined for driving with a broken light, but it can be really dangerous.

It’s a good idea to carry a few spares in your car, just in case a light does happen to blow.

Winter essentials

Making sure the parts of your car are fully-functioning keeps you in a great place to drive safely in winter. But it’s worth planning for things such as frost, snow, and low visibility. Packing a de-icer, an ice scraper, and a torch will come in really handy in a pinch. It’s certainly no fun trying to get ice off a windscreen without the proper tools.

Winter driving hazards

Other than the obvious risk of aquaplaning in wet conditions, the less obvious risk in Winter is ‘Black Ice’. This is ice that’s the same colour as the road, ,making it difficult or impossible to spot.

This is surprisingly common in the frosts of mid-winter, so be sure to drive at a speed and stopping distance that can account for unexpected changes in road grip.

Get in touch

If you’re concerned about your car in winter, contact your local Kwik Fit, and we’ll be glad to advise you on what can be done to keep you safe.

For a free vehicle health check, we've got you covered - so you can keep things up and running this winter. 

Tags : Tips

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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