Essential car maintenance jobs before winter

Essential car maintenance jobs before winter 4th November 2014

Driving in winter can cause a number of issues for drivers in the UK. Colder conditions are not only troublesome on the roads, but can cause vehicles to fail and break down more often, which can leave drivers stranded or unable to travel. 

According to breakdown expert Green Flag, call outs for breakdowns increase by some 26 per cent in the winter months with more than half of all roadside assistance instances caused by winter breakdowns. 

So what maintenance can you make sure you have done before the colder weather sets in to give your car the best chance of going through the winter months without breaking down on you? 

  • Battery. Cars failing to start in the morning is by far the biggest issue that can occur in the winter season. The RAC reported that 50,000 of its call outs during winter can be attributed to flat batteries that need recharged. It's important to remember that if you leave your car unused for a period of time, the battery will drain, and this is even more true in winter. If the car has already been labouring and struggling to start in autumn, it can be a good idea to get your car booked in to have a new battery fitted, taking away the worry that it might not start one morning. 
  • Engine coolant. The engine coolant is probably something that most drivers don't pay much attention to, but at this time of the year it's more important than throughout the rest of the year. You need to make sure that the solution has the right amount of anti-freeze in it. Damage to a frozen engine can be expensive to fix, and eight per cent of all winter car issues are caused by engine management failings. If you're unsure about the strength of your coolant solution, have an expert check it for you. 
  • Screen washer. While you may top this up at all times of the year without a second thought, similar to engine coolant, it will depend on the time of year as to what sort of solution you need to use. Not using a good quality screen washer fluid can lead to problems. If your solution freezes, then not only can it mean you won't be able to clean the windows properly, but the fuse can burn out, stopping your window wipers from working altogether. To avoid this, look for a good quality washer fluid that protects down to -10C, or -20C if you live in extremely cold places. 
  • Tyres. The health of your tyres is more significant at this time of year with roads becoming wet and potentially icy throughout the next few months. Make sure that the tread of your tyres is not just legal, but adequate to give you good grip on the road, and ensure that there are no cuts or bulges in them. If you have any doubts at all about your tyres, it's best to have them checked out by an expert and changed if necessary.

Posted by Danielle Barge