Just because the UK doesn’t experience the same extreme winter conditions as other countries, it doesn’t mean that our vehicles aren’t at risk, too. As the days are getting colder and we excitedly await Christmas, it is important that we make a few changes to the way that we drive and care for our vehicles. Here are some top tips from local mechanics that could save you a lot of hassle in the long run:
Check your battery
When questioned, most of our registered garages said that one of the biggest issues they see during the winter months is flat batteries. Your battery comes under a lot more strain, especially on a short journey: you get in the car, run the heaters to demist the windows, have lights on because it is darker, possible windscreen wipers and radio, too. All of this is taking its toll on the battery and a short journey won’t be sufficient to replenish that power. If your battery is old, it may be worth talking to your local garage about getting it replaced. If the school run or the drive home from work take ten minutes, drive around the block for a while longer to give the battery a chance to recharge.
Keep your fuel topped up
If you are one of those people that waits until your fuel is on the red before refilling, it might pay to change that habit. When your tank is less than half full, on frosty nights, water in the air can freeze and form drops of ice in your fuel. When this melts, this will result in water in your fuel, which can cause damage. So, instead of waiting for it to reach red, refuel as son as you hit the half full mark.
Remember the antifreeze!
Antifreeze stops your car coolant from freezing, so it can continue to do its job of preventing the engine from overheating. It should have been topped up at your last service, but if in doubt, check with your mechanic. While you’re at it, you may want to put a drop of antifreeze in your windscreen washer.
Give yourself an extra 10 minutes
We’ve all been there: you're running late, get to your car, only for it to be frozen and fogged up. A quick scrape and a wipe and you can just about see through the porthole if you lean forward enough. Aside from the fact that “driving with a porthole of visibility” is illegal, it is dangerous; your visibility is limited in potentially poor conditions anyway. This could all be avoided if you had left ten extra minutes to safely de-ice your windscreen and run your demisters for a while.
Driving in the winter can be a little more challenging, but if you are prepared, you can prevent accidents and breakdowns. If in doubt, book your vehicle into a local garage to get your battery, coolant, brakes and tyres checked so that you can drive into winter safely. For more tips and advice on finding the best local garages, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.