Winter is coming, and that means that many of our motors will be facing the toughest weather and road conditions of the year.
The autumn is a good time to carry out some routine checks on your vehicle’s condition – there are still some warmer days with evening sunshine to get out to your driveway or garage, so here are our top 10 car checks to carry out before the season progresses too far.
1. Coolant and antifreeze
You shouldn’t just pour antifreeze into your coolant, as there’s a specific ratio for each vehicle, but it’s important to check your coolant levels as temperatures drop. If in doubt, consult a qualified technician who can advise you on the right ratio.
2. Oil viscosity
Oil levels are one issue, but viscosity is also worth checking, especially if temperatures drop below freezing, as thinner engine oil is better suited to keep flowing in cold weather.
3. Battery health
If your battery is older than about five years, your car has failed to start this summer, or you have only driven it short distances, make sure your battery is in good enough condition to cope with the extra demands of headlights, heaters and windscreen wipers throughout the winter.
4. Tyre tread
Icy roads are dangerous enough even without driving on bald tyres. Tread depth of 2-3mm is more than the legal minimum, but smart if driving through snow.
5. Fan belt
Don’t be that driver whose car squeals like a Bonfire Night rocket every time you start it up – make sure your fan belt is in good condition and correctly fitted, or get it replaced.
6. Fresh filters
Fuel and air filters can get clogged up in winter, when your intakes are more likely to suck in snow, ice, and even grit/salt from icy roads, so get them checked over to make sure your vehicle’s efficiency isn’t suffering from blocked air flow.
7. Protected paint
Check your vehicle’s exterior for any paint chips, cracks or areas where it has started to flake off. A coat of wax can help to protect against chipping due to grit kicked up off the road surface, while vinyl wraps are increasingly popular as a way to provide a physical barrier against future paint damage.
8. Tyre walls
We’ve mentioned tread depth above, but remember your tyres are your one point of contact with the road, and your only source of grip, so check them again. This time look for cracked side walls, scuffs and bulges that could lead to a blow-out if the rubber is less pliable in cold weather.
9. Washer bottles
Give your windscreen wiper washer bottle a clean out and/or fill it to the correct level with appropriate washer fluid – you might also want to clean or replace your wiper blades for a streak-free screen.
10. Heater test
Before you head out on an icy morning – are your heaters working? Test your blowers on full, make sure air is flowing out of the vents evenly, especially those needed to clear steamy or icy windows, and when your rear window is next steamed or frosted up, check its built-in de-mister setting and how quickly you start to see clear glass around the black lines.