With freezing temperatures and potentially challenging weather conditions throughout the UK, preparing your car for winter is essential to ensure safety and optimal performance.

Here are some basic car maintenance tips to help your car survive the winter season.

Battery
Most modern vehicles have a battery health indicator that turns red or green depending on the health of your battery (red indicating low voltage and green indicating good condition)

Cold weather can strain your car's battery, so ensuring it's in good condition is essential. Flat batteries are the most common cause of vehicle breakdowns, as many things can impact battery health. A voltmeter can be purchased cheaply, which can help you check your battery’s voltage.

If you are worried about your vehicle's battery's health, we will happily check it for you.

Antifreeze/Coolant
Most modern cars have a dashboard warning light with an engine coolant symbol to let you know if your coolant has a problem. If this light does come on, we recommend getting your car checked.

For those who prefer to check the coolant levels before a long journey, you'll need to locate your car’s coolant tank (the cap will usually read ‘engine coolant’ or ‘never open when hot’ or a symbol with an exclamation mark). You be able to view the coolant level to see whether it needs topping up or not.

If you do top it up yourself, it is IMPORTANT ONLY TO check this once the engine has cooled down, as a sudden release of pressurised hot water could scald you.

Tyres
Tyre pressure tends to drop in cold weather, so checking your tyres is essential.

  1. Check there is sufficient tread depth for traction
  2. Inspect the tyre sidewalls for cracks or bulges
  3. Check the tyre pressure
  4. Check for any visible damage

It is also good to have your tyres balanced and aligned, ensuring that they wear evenly and have the correct balance and alignment to improve the handling and performance of your vehicle.

​​It may also be worth considering switching to winter tires for better performance in snow and ice.

Wiper blades and fluid
Fitting winter-specific wiper blades and using windshield washer fluid designed for freezing temperatures can help with visibility on the road, making your journey safer.

Brakes
It is essential to check your brakes to ensure they are in good working order, especially as winter driving usually requires more frequent and precise braking. Stopping distance also increases significantly in wet and icy weather, so worn brakes are a recipe for disaster.

Make sure that you’re aware of how your brakes are behaving. If your car pulls to one side, your brakes feel spongy or unresponsive, or your brakes make strange noises, book an inspection as soon as possible.

If you are having trouble with your brakes on your journey, try to avoid driving at fast speeds and book in your vehicle for a brake check.

Heating
Make sure the heating system and defrosters are working correctly by testing them before starting your journey. This is crucial for keeping you warm and ensuring the windows are clear and steam-free.

Lights
It gets dark earlier, so properly functioning headlights, brake lights, fog lights, and indicators are essential!

Check all your lights are working and clean them regularly. Dirt can quickly build up on your headlights, hindering your vision of the road and potential hazards.

Ensure that you replace blown bulbs as soon as possible. Not only is this an instant MOT fail, but other road users may not be able to see you clearly in wintry conditions.

Keep your petrol topped up
Maintaining a full gas tank helps prevent the fuel line from freezing and provides a source of heat if you get stranded.

Electric range
If you have an electric vehicle, make sure you have plenty of electric charge for your journey as the cold drains the battery, and you could find you have less range than expected.

Pack an Emergency Kit
Pack a winter emergency kit, can help you in case of an emergency.

Include things like;

  1. Warm blankets
  2. Warm clothes and boots
  3. Phone chargers
  4. Ice scraper & screenwash
  5. A torch (make sure batteries work!)
  6. Jump cables
  7. First-aid kit
  8. Ice scraper
  9. snow shovel
  10. Snacks
  11. Map (if not using phone maps)

Be prepared for winter weather by checking weather forecasts, planning routes, and allowing extra time for travel.

Regular maintenance can go a long way in ensuring your car is ready to handle winter conditions safely. If you're not comfortable performing these checks yourself, consider booking your vehicle in for a winter maintenance checkup.