5 Things You Must Do To Get Your Car Ready For Winter

Preparing your car for the cold weather has many benefits, the main one being that you reduce the risk of breaking down, which is not ideal for anyone. As temperatures plummet, we tend to forget to make the necessary car checks our vehicles need, especially on longer journeys when we’re travelling to see friends and family before the festive season starts. Although our cars are durable and reliable all year round, winter is the season that has the most potential to harm your car due to the salt which is used to keep the road free of ice. The ice will try to dissolve unprotected metal, and mud can get into unseen parts of our cars, causing potential blockages. 

Click4Reg, a private number plates supplier, has compiled a list of the top 5 things you must do to get your car ready for winter. Let’s dive right in!

  1. Get Your Winter Survival Kit Ready

Preparing a winter kit for your car takes little to no time at all. It can be tailored to include whatever you feel is necessary, but the basic items you would need are:

  • De-icer
  • Scraper
  • A large torch
  • Spare phone charger or cable or phone battery pack
  • Jump leads
  • Empty fuel can
  • High visibility clothing
  • Warning triangles
  • First aid kit
  • Shovel

You won’t necessarily need to use all of the above, but it’s best to have them in the boot of your car should you require them. If you live or travel to and from rural areas, such as the countryside, you might get some use out of the shovel and high visibility clothing!

  1. Use Winter Wiper Blades

Snow can jam up regular wiper blades, causing them to smear or miss big sections of your windshield. Winter wiper blades take care of that issue. The entire blade is enclosed in a rubber boot, which keeps ice and snow from adhering or packing. They greatly improve visibility and make winter driving safer. Old wiper blades should be removed and replaced with winter ones, which is a very small investment for improved visibility and safety on the road. 

You should be able to pick up new winter wiper blades at your local garage or car part supplier.

  1. Perform a Car Battery Test

Car batteries only last so long and the last thing you need is for your battery to fail you in the middle of winter. Extremely cold temperatures can put a significant amount of stress on your battery, which can drain your battery power by 30-60%!

Testing the battery in your car can be done by yourself or by a professional. Battery testers are designed to test the remaining capacity of a battery’s overall charge, so you have a clear picture of its health.

We highly recommend that a regular battery check is essential if your vehicle is only driven occasionally. You can purchase a battery tester from a local car accessory retailer or browse online. They are easy to use and come with simple-to-follow instructions!

Testing your battery twice a year will help reduce the chances of unexpected battery failure.

  1. Consider Winter Tyres

Your life might be saved by winter tyres. In comparison to all-season tyres, winter tyres offer significantly higher traction on snow.  They even outperform regular tyres on ice, stopping you 48% faster and minimising the potential of skidding. 

Winter tyres feature a softer compound, deeper grooves and narrow cuts that are built into the tread. This helps disperse water and snow, improving your vehicle’s contact with the road. Having these fitted before winter arrives isn’t mandatory in the UK, but in countries such as Sweden and Austria, for example, winter tyres are compulsory, or drivers could face hefty fines.

  1. Install Anti Freeze

A popular, cost-effective option for getting your car ready for winter is topping up the engine coolant with anti-freeze, and this is a must! Many drivers forget to top up the engine coolant throughout the year, and just top it up with water. The issue with this is that anti-freeze gets over-diluted. 

As a guideline to remember, your vehicle’s engine coolant should be a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze for it to work properly. Without anti-freeze, serious problems can arise from frozen or partially frozen coolant in your engine, stopping flow in the essential cooling system. This has the potential to cause overheating and, in the worst case, engine failure. 

These checks for your car won’t take you all that long and it always pays to be safe than sorry. Make sure you follow our recommendations listed above and be road-safe in the winter. Also, if you have any tips or checks of your own, let us know! 

Common Car Issues That Occur in The Winter

Winter is well and truly arriving – and with it those cold mornings and even colder nights. The drop in temperature and changing weather conditions can wreak havoc with your car, so be on the lookout for the following car issues in the following months.

Dead battery

If your car is struggling to start during the winter, it is likely that you have a problem with the battery.

It is said that a car battery will have 20-30% less cranking capacity when the temperature is at 0?, depending on the type of battery you have. This can be even more of an issue when you take into consideration the fact that the car will need to use the battery more, to power things like windscreen wipers, heating, and headlights, too.

Still won’t start? Check these too

If the issue isn’t the battery, it is also possible that it is the result of a worn alternator belt, an overstressed starter motor, or corroded spark plugs, so make sure to double check these also.

Low tyre pressure

During the winter, tyre pressure can drop due to the change in temperature. When cold, the air molecules slow down, which causes a drop in pressure. Many brands of tyres estimate that with every 10-degree drop, you will lose 1 or 2 PSI – this equates to about 0.2 PSI per 1 degree C.

Your tyre pressure light will only illuminate when there is a 25% decrease, so it is essential to check your tyre pressure regularly for any small underinflation. As a general rule of thumb, wait until your car has been turned off for 3 hours to get the most accurate reading. This is because driving the car can warm up the air slightly, causing a natural fluctuation in tyre pressure.

Corrosion from grit

Spreading grit is an essential aspect of road safety during winter, as the rock salt lowers the temperature at which water freezes, thus reducing ice (and ice-related accidents) on the roads.

Though essential, the salt can build up underneath your vehicle. These deposits can corrode vital components of the car and its bodywork. However, grit is not just made from salt, but also contains a mix of gravel and stones. As you can imagine, these loose elements can further damage bodywork.

Thickened fluids

There are various fluids within the car that are required for it to function properly, such as engine oil, transmission fluid, engine coolant, and screen wash. Of course, during the colder months, these liquids will become denser and more viscous, if it doesn’t freeze completely.

When thickened, the fluids will work less efficiently, and might even damage the mechanics of the car. To reduce the risk, you can make sure your car is winter ready, take your motor to a MOT centre for its regular maintenance, service, or a pre-winter check, and always allow the engine to warm up for 10 minutes before setting off.

Frozen lock, door, window, or windscreen wipers

And last but not least, you might find that certain elements of your car become frozen over, such as your lock, car door, windows, and windscreen wipers. Make sure to keep a spare antifreeze and scraper that is not stored in the car itself, so you have it to hand to defrost doors that have frozen shut.

Cost-of-living crisis: Motorists are holding on to older cars for longer

Home / Auto News / Cost-of-living crisis: Motorists are holding on to older cars for longer

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

Older cars

The financial squeeze has resulted in a reprieve for cars over 10 years old, a new research suggests.

A survey of 2,000 UK drivers with older cars revealed more than half (57%) will keep their car for longer due to worries about the current economic situation.

However, running an ageing car has, in some cases, caused some motorists financial anguish, with 10% claiming some repair bills have run into the thousands.

Nearly one in 10 aren’t sure how much their older car has set them back, while 21% reckon they’ve spent more on repairs in any given year than they think their entire car is actually worth.

“It’s important when budgeting for a new car to consider maintenance costs, which will be required throughout its life,” said Mark Carpenter, CEO at nearly new vehicle retailer Motorpoint, which commissioned the study.

“In the current climate, many motorists will look to weigh up the pros of hanging on to an older car, which they may own outright, with financing a newer one that may meet their needs for additional space, lower emissions, improved economy, and safety equipment.”

The research also found that almost a third (31%) have had a bill of £400 or more in the past year for an unanticipated but essential maintenance item, while 10% have had a single bill of £1,000 or more.

For people who do foresee a change on their driveway, 57% will go for something pre-owned but newer than their current one.

Lower running costs (24%), improved reliability (13%) and just wanting a change (7%) were the top reasons people would consider switching their older car.

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Young drivers putting off car repairs in bid to save money

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2 days ago
Auto News

Car maintenance

More than a third of drivers aged 17 to 24 (37%) are putting off necessary repairs to their vehicles in an attempt to cut their outgoings as the cost-of-living crisis bites< according to new research.

The 2022 RAC Report on Motoring also found nearly a fifth of young people (16%) say they are delaying getting major repairs made – which might include work such as replacing a handbrake or cracked windscreen.

However, a huge 28% are putting off other repairs, which include fixing minor oil leaks or replacing brake discs.

What’s more, young drivers are more than twice as likely (37%) as average (14%) to say they have deliberately delayed getting any repair work completed, with those who drive cars over 10 years of age (19%) and who live in town or city centre areas (25%) also significantly more likely to put work off.

Perhaps surprisingly, drivers of all ages are more inclined to skip repairs in a bid to save money than they are to either reduce how often they get their vehicles serviced or switch to a cheaper insurer.

Just one-in-10 of all drivers (9%) say they are servicing their vehicles less frequently and 13% say they have got a cheaper insurance policy, compared to 14% who have put off getting repairs done.

“Without question, putting off vehicle repairs or skipping routine servicing are both false economies, but these figures show in all-too-stark terms just how many drivers, especially younger ones, feel they have to do this to lower their spending in the face of rising prices,” said RAC spokesman Rod Dennis.

“The fact over a third of young drivers are deliberately delaying getting their vehicles fixed to cut costs is actually a harbinger of future unwelcome – and possibly far larger – garage bills.

“What’s more, not getting work to a car done means the chances of it letting a driver down shoots up, making it potentially less safe.

“And as the average age of cars on our roads is getting older due to fewer people trading up to new cars, it looks as though many of them will also be in a poorer overall state of repair which is bad news for everyone using the roads.”

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Young drivers putting brakes on car maintenance

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New research claims that more than three-quarters of motorists aged 18-34 have delayed key vehicle checks to save money.

As drivers battle the cost of living crisis, data commissioned by the UK’s leading independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, also shows almost a third (28%) of younger drivers have held off their annual car service and 30% have put off changing their oil.

Key tyre checks have also been put on hold, with 30% of younger drivers surveyed also admitting putting off fixing a puncture, and 28% delaying changing tyres with low tread.

But it’s not just younger drivers who are making tough choices on car upkeep. The data also found that 15% of all drivers, of all ages, said their annual car service is on the backburner thanks to the rise in living costs, with 11% avoiding paying out for necessary tyre changes.

Which of the following repairs/improvements have you put off/delayed making to your car as a result of the cost-of-living crisis?
Total Total (all ages) 18-34
Service 15% 28%
Tyre change, eg replacing a tyre with low tread 11% 28%
Tyre repair, eg fixing a puncture 7% 22%
Oil change 9% 30%
None of these 61% 21%

“This study shows that drivers are already making difficult choices about what they can and cannot afford, which could negatively impact the environment, their safety and the safety of other road users.” said Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart.

“Servicing doesn’t just look good in a log book, it’s there for a reason, and can pick up a range of issues which could present safety risks to drivers, if not spotted.

“It also ensures that your car’s engine is running as efficiently as possible, so ignoring servicing guidelines could cost you more in the long run in repairs or increased fuel consumption.

“Likewise, tyre health has a hugely important role to play in car and road safety. Tyres with low-tread depth have less road grip, and might be illegal, so it is of concern that motorists are sadly having to put off these vital repairs.

“There is no doubt that as living costs rise, motorists are feeling the squeeze, but we urge drivers to consider the safety implications of avoiding vital repairs, especially any which may be a legal requirement and could lead to more expensive costs down the line – or worse, risking their lives or other road users. Key behaviour changes, such as driving more economically to reduce fuel consumption, can be a way to cut costs without cutting safety.”