Keep you & your family safe with a winter health check for your vehicle
At each change of each season is a great time to give your vehicle a quick health check, and get it ready for the cold weather and slippery conditions that lie ahead over the winter months, so remember to check:
Tyres - these keep you on the road so check the condition of your tyres If it looks like time to upgrade your tyres, don't be tempted to just freshen the fronts on the theory that they're the ones doing the steering. Having a huge differential in grip between front and rear in wet conditions can be very dangerous indeed and send your car into a spin.
Tyre pressure Having the correct pressures means your car will track straight and respond to your inputs more reliably on low-friction surfaces, while having good tread depth will help them disperse standing water as you drive along. The minimum is 1.5mm but in winter driving, it should be much more.
Wipers & Blades You're going to really count on your wipers in the winter months, so give the arms and blades a good check over. Both wiper arms and blades need to be correctly adjusted - or replaced - to keep your windscreen clear. The arms have a lot of work to do (including many changes of direction). If they're not adjusted correctly the blades won't have the right pressure to keep the glass clear. The blades should not be pressing hard vertically on the windscreen, but rather sit at a sight angle. You can give the arms a little twist to correct them - but be gentle. Give the blades a clean with soapy water or rubbing alcohol, but if they're really worn it's the right time to replace them.
Windscreen – Inside & Out Make sure your washer fluid is topped up and that it has a good additive; it not only helps clean the winter filth off the glass, it prevents the water from freezing. While you are at it, clean the inside of your windscreen as well.
Anti-freeze Anti-freeze is something you should have in your car's coolant all year round. It not only prevents freezing, it can also stop overheating and keep rust at bay. A full flush and coolant renewal is something your mechanic can do, but if you need to top up as part of regular maintenance make sure you do so with the correct mix of water and anti-freeze. That depends on the product you're using, but it's usually 30-50 per cent.
The Battery & Terminals Make sure the battery is clean: a thick mixture of baking soda and water and an old toothbrush can work wonders - but make sure the vehicle is turned off and the terminals are disconnected first. Open the battery covers and check the cells: the electrolyte fluid should cover them and be the same level across all. If a cell is nearly exposed, add distilled water.
Check your bulbs You don’t always realise when a bulb has blown, so take a quick look to ensure all your head lights, tail lights and indicators are working. While you’re at it, check the inside lights as well.
Check your torch batteries The worst time to find you have dead batteries when you are in most need of a torch, so refresh with new batteries if you didn’t do so last year. If you are in need of a torch, it is generally dark, so you certainly don’t want them going flat then.
First Aid Kit & Snow Chains Check the contents that should be there and replenish the first aid kit you may have dipped into over the summer period. Check the expiry dates of any medications. Add to this any medications you or your family may need if you get stranded. Most times you are likely to be on your way again soon but it is good practise to be prepared for at least 24hrs. This includes a bottles of water, snacks and a blanket. Especially if travelling where snow may affect your trip, which leads us to snow chains. Not for everyone, but if there is a risk – be prepared.
There's plenty you can do yourself so make sure your car is healthy for cold-weather driving. On behalf of Donna and Kelly, we wish you safe driving through the winter.