Looking after your car in winter

Motoring 2020-10-23
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Practical tips for maintaining your vehicle this winter

Taking extra care during the winter months to make sure that your car is running on top form can prevent any unnecessary damage. It’s important to make regular health checks to not only ensure the safety of your vehicle but also to save you money too.

Here at Hitachi Personal Finance, we’ve put together some practical tips for looking after your car during the winter months.

Get a service

If your car is due a service, then it’s worth getting it booked in now before the cold weather hits. Many vehicle-related problems that motorists experience during winter can easily be prevented by undertaking regular servicing and maintenance checks.

Also, it might be worth checking out your local garages to see if they offer discounted or free winter car checks for extra peace of mind if you’re on a budget.

Battery

Your battery will be used a lot more during winter with the increased use of lights, demister and heater so ensuring that it’s working correctly should be your number one priority.

Most car batteries have a life span of five years so it’s important to get it checked out straight away if you notice any issues. The last thing you want is to be caught out during a long journey and end up having your car recovered.

Engine

Anyone who drives a car will know how important it is to make sure that your oil is always topped up.

If your car hasn’t been driven in a while, there’s a chance that oil will have dripped down to the bottom of the drain pan, leaving your cylinders dry. There is an easy way to resolve this problem and that is to ‘fog the engine’. This basically means using a specially formulated spray containing petroleum that will keep your engine lubricated and prevent corrosion.

The best way to do this is to start the engine, remove the air filter and spray into the air intake of each cylinder. Once you have done this, leave the engine on for a further 10 seconds and turn it off.  Finally, remove the spark plugs and spray your fog oil into each cylinder before replacing them.

Tyres

Keep an eye on your tyres to make sure that there are no signs of wear and tear as well as any damage caused by potholes or debris from the road. Don’t forget to test your tyre pressure either. Low pressure will not only shorten the life of the tyre but can decrease your fuel efficiently meaning you will be spending more cash at the garage.

It’s also extremely important to ensure your tread depth is at least 1.6mm, which is the legal requirement on UK roads. A simple way of checking is by doing the 20p test. Insert a 20 pence piece into your tread and if your tyre comes above the outer band of the coin, then it’s above the legal limit.

Antifreeze

A common mistake most people make is to top their coolant with water during winter rather than anti-freeze. Engine coolant should always be a 50/50 mix to ensure that it doesn’t freeze in the cold weather. If this happens, then there is a chance that the engine can overheat leaving you with a big repair bill.

Visibility

With daylight hours being considerably reduced, the car’s lights will be used more frequently. Making sure that all the bulbs are working and replacing any that aren’t will help keep yourself and other road users safe. Also, giving them a bit of a clean as well will increase visibility and can be done relatively easily.

If you have any chips in your windscreen, have these looked at now, as the cold weather can cause them to spread and crack further. Check that all windscreens are clean inside and out with the screen wash fully topped up. 

Bodywork

Salt corrosion can be one of the more expensive issues to get fixed at a garage if you don’t take preventative measures. When dealing with minor corrosion, give the area a good clean with warm soapy water or try using a bit of white vinegar on an old tea towel to give it a good wipe down. Either one of these two ways will work and help stop the damage spreading.

If the corrosion is more severe then you may have to take a trip to your local hardware shop to buy some rust and corrosion remover. Make sure that you follow the instructions on the product, and this may save you a costly trip to the mechanic.

Be prepared

Having an emergency breakdown kit in your car can be a real-life saver if the weather ever turns suddenly leaving you stranded or unable to get home.

We recommend including a shovel, torch with spare batteries, blanket, hi-visibility vest, screen wash, scraper, de-icer, snow grips for your footwear, food and water.

It’s always better to prepared just in case!

Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.

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