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The arrival of winter brings with it the need to make certain that your vehicle will be able to cope with the bad weather that will inevitably be on its way. Unusual demands are made of equipment and parts during winter, and failure to prepare your vehicle for the season can have serious or even fatal consequences.
Driving conditions can become chaotic with such factors as snow, wind, rain and ice. Breakdowns also tend to happen more often during winter, creating challenges for both new drivers and those with years of experience – but you can make sure that you and your vehicle are ready for this difficult time, just by performing a few easy winter checks.
Damp, cold weather is anathema to batteries, and if you are having difficulty starting your car there is a good chance your battery may be on its last legs. Although the correct equipment will allow you to test your battery yourself, it is much simpler to make use of a specialist at a car spares shop or your main local dealer. The great majority of places that stock car batteries these days will also fit one for you. If you are unable to get there because the car will not start, try using jump leads to get it going.
Antifreeze prevents the water present in the cooling system of the engine from freezing during winter, making it important to check that your antifreeze will be effective prior to the start of cold weather. Antifreeze testers are inexpensive and can be used by removing the coolant reservoir cap beneath the bonnet, once the engine is cool.
The tube should be lowered into the coolant, with the rubber bulb located on the end squeezed in order to ensure some antifreeze is sucked into the tester. The antifreeze’s freezing point can then be tested with the scale located inside the tester. It is also a good idea to flush your vehicle’s coolant system in the autumn prior to the start of freezing weather, install fresh coolant, and check that there are no leaks in the system.
You should try to shelter your car as much as possible in winter. Your vehicle should always be placed in your garage if you have one, and if not it can be a good idea to invest in a reversible car cover, which will at least provide some protection from salts that are often used on roads during this season, and keep ice and snow off your paint and windscreen.
Winter months have short days and bad weather, making it extremely important to check and maintain the exterior lights on your vehicle. Lights should be checked and cleaned on a regular basis as dirt and salt can build up very quickly, resulting in visibility issues at night and when it is snowing, raining or very foggy. Extra bulbs should also be carried in case of emergency.
Winter tyres are a particularly smart purchase for people who need to drive regularly during this season, as they provide exceptional grip in snowy and icy conditions and during extreme temperature drops. The extra safety that is provided by the tyres makes them worth the cost. Tyre pressures should also be checked regularly during winter.