As you stock up on wooly jumpers and thick scarves, don’t forget that your car needs to be kitted out for winter too.
Temperatures are dropping, and it’s time to think about equipping your car for harsher conditions. Winter-proofing your car now, before the first snow flurries, is the key to avoiding a roadside breakdown.
Under the bonnet
- – Battery — Both the AA and the RAC say battery issues are the number one reason they’re called out to assist drivers. Dead batteries are even more common in the winter, when cold weather slows down the battery’s chemical reaction and reduces its ability to accept a charge. Also, higher demand for electricity in the winter—headlights, wipers, heated seats, etc.—puts more strain on the battery. So, as you gear up for winter, have a mechanic to check your battery life and be sure to throw a pair of jumper cables in the boot.
- – Antifreeze — It’s important that your car’s coolant system contains enough antifreeze so that, as the name implies, your engine doesn’t freeze when the temperatures drop below zero. Get your coolant system flushed and refilled by a professional, who can check for leaks and ensure it contains the right ratio of antifreeze.
- – Screenwash — With slushy puddles scattered across the winter roads, it’s impossible to keep your windscreen clean for long. Make sure you’re topped up on screenwash so that you can keep your eyes on the road rather than those irritating mud splotches right in your line of vision.
In the boot
- – Blanket — A wool throw is useful in case of emergencies, keeping you warm if your engine (and heating) were to break down. It’s also just a nice item to have for those extra chilly mornings when your car seems to take forever to warm up.
- – Torch — It’s not just the cold weather that makes winter driving more difficult, but the darker mornings and evenings as well. If you run into any trouble—like a flat tire or a fender bender—a torch will help you illuminate and assess the problem so that you can get back on the road as soon as possible.
- – Emergency snacks — Nonperishable food items, like jars of nuts, cereal bars and dried fruit are an essential part of your winter emergency kit. The odds of you breaking down somewhere remote and needing to wait days for help are very low, but there’s no harm in being prepared.
For the interior
- – Phone charger — Imagine this: the cold weather does a number on your engine and leaves you stranded in a supermarket car park. The solution is as simple as calling a tow truck, but you reach for your phone and the screen’s black. Dead battery. To avoid this unfortunate situation, keep a phone charger in your car and never let your battery run down lower than halfway.
- – Ice scraper — An essential tool for those frosty mornings, an ice scraper allows you to clear your windscreen quickly and efficiently. If you often find yourself sitting in the drivers seat, wipers on full blast, waiting for a patch to clear on your windscreen so that you can finally get going, do yourself a favour and invest in a scraper.
For the exterior
- – Winter tyres — One of the most important safety measures you can take in preparing your car for winter is making the annual switch to winter tyres. These cold weather tyres are specially designed to stay flexible in low temperatures and maintain their grip on slick surfaces. If you don’t end up getting winter tyres, at least assess the condition of your current tyres to make sure the pressure and tread are both up to par.
- – Wiper blades — Whether it’s snow, rain, sleet or hail, winter brings with it an assortment of precipitation that turns the roads into lakes (or worse, ice rinks) and severely limits your visibility. Quality wiper blades go a long way towards keeping your windscreen clear so that you can see any potential dangers ahead.
- – Lights — Any broken, dim or burned out bulbs? Get those sorted before the days get any darker or colder. All lights—headlights, brake lights, indicators—are essential for both your visibility and the ability for other drivers to see you.
Of course, another important area of preparation is you, the driver. Remind yourself that winter weather creates difficult driving conditions, and adjust your driving accordingly.
How do you prepare your car for winter?