It goes without saying that even the most efficient, loyal and trustworthy car can give you problems the moment cold weather strikes. The New Year gives us an opportunity to create resolutions and buy gym memberships we will never use. Whilst you might prefer the warmth of your home than a gym in this weather, your car (assuming you don’t have a mansion with indoor parking – or just indoor parking) will spend much of its time out in the cold. The Government recently forecasted that traffic volumes will rise in 2017. Seeing as you will likely be spending more time in your car this year, it is imperative that you make sure it’s fighting fit. Give your car a fighting chance and take a moment to provide it with some TLC with our guide to a car winter check!
Here, you are basically making sure your car still looks pretty. We don’t mean dents and scratches though. We mean, the roadworthiness of your wheels; the functionality of your lights; and the cleanness of your windscreen wipers. Before you even begin to look at your engine these must be the first areas you look at. After all, what good is a fully functioning engine if your tyres give way on wet surface because the thread depth isn’t right?
Let’s start with the tyres. Simply check that that the air pressure is what it should be (as instructed by tyre manufacturer). The best way to check your tyre’s air pressure is to invest in an air compressor. You can find one of the best in the market made by Ring (according to Auto Express) for just £25. Bargain.
The next check is the tread depth, which should be no less than 2mm. You can make sure of this by employing the ‘20p test’. With a 20 pence piece in hand, insert it into the tread grooves of your tyre. If you can see the outer band of the 20p your tread depth may be below the legal limit. If you cannot see the outer band of the 20p your tyres are roadworthy (provided the air pressure levels are also correct, of course).
You should then move on to your windscreen wipers. There is nothing worse than giving your window a spritz and seeing your wipers leave water behind on your screen, which is the first sign of wear. The second sign of weariness is if there is a toughness to the touch of the blades’ rubber tips. If it is apparent that you need new wipers, you can check out wipers specific to your make and model online.
Lastly for the first step, if you were driving through a fog would your lights do an adequate job? The lights you should be checking are headlamps, tail lamps, side lights, and indicators. Does your light need replacing? Grab the manufacturers’ handbook or drive your car to the local garage as soon as possible.
Now you get under the bonnet and make sure the engine will run correctly. If you need to work your way around the engine but aren’t sure where everything is, the vehicle manual will help.
Winter freezes your car engine and coolant’s job is to help the engine maintain a respectable temperature level. To check your coolant levels, you first must locate the clear plastic tank. Then, you must ensure that the coolant liquid is between the minimum and maximum markers. If it is below the minimum, you will need to refill it so that it is in between both markers.
Once your coolant levels are checked, check your oil levels. In this case, the minimum and maximum levels will likely be on a dipstick. When you pull the dipstick out you will need to clean it and then return it into the tank in order to measure the oil levels. As with the coolant levels, if the oil level is below the minimum level marker you will need to fill it so that it is between both minimum and maximum levels.
We dealt with the external element of the windscreen wipers in step 1, now we will briefly inspect the internal element. To ensure that your screen gives you no dirty problems you will need to mix water and windscreen washer fluid then pour into the reservoir tank.
Cold weather and car batteries are not the best of friends and after a very cold winter, your battery won’t be off to a flying start – well, not unless you take precautions. A good practice after a period of cold weather is to take your vehicle for a drive for no more than 20-minutes a couple of days before your first commute to work.
It warms up your battery and prevents awkward starts when you really need to be on the road.
Happy New Year to you and your car!