Winter Safety Check
As the cold, wet and icy weather conditions start rolling in, driving becomes more challenging and dangerous. The likelihood of accidents occurring on public roads are significantly increased and, as a result, motorists are urged to perform a winter safety check. This is an essential part of car maintenance and will ensure that your vehicle is in optimal condition to handle the change in weather, keeping you, your family and other road users safe.
What Is A Winter Safety Check?
A winter safety check involves looking at certain parts and the overall condition of your car to ensure that you are well-prepared for winter driving. If you know a thing or two about cars, you could do this at home but where do you even start? We suggest doing a visual inspection first and foremost. This includes looking for visible leaks, checking the lights, indicators, mirrors, tyre condition, radiator and hoses.
For true peace of mind and convenience, you can always book a free winter safety check at Elite Garages. Our team of experts will conduct a thorough inspection, provide a detailed report and offer a no-obligation quote to repair or replace.
What does a winter safety check include?
This is a common question leading up to winter and our checklist below provides you with all the necessary information.
- Coolant Level/Condition
- Top Up Washer Bottle
- Check Battery Condition
- Check Fan Belt
- Check Tyre Condition/Inflation
- Check Shock Absorbers
- Check Lights And Indicators
- Check Exhaust
- Windscreen Wipers And Blades
- Visual Radiator & Heater Hose Check
- Brake Fluid Boiling Point
- Check Oil Level
Check All Fluids
While it may seem obvious, many motorists don’t always remember this important step. It’s essential to check your engine oil, windscreen washer, antifreeze and brake fluid. We recommend that you perform all of these checks when the engine is cold.
To test the effectiveness of your antifreeze, a tester is available fairly cheaply. All you do is unscrew the coolant cap under the bonnet, insert the tube into the coolant and squeeze the rubber bulb to suck some antifreeze into the tester. Now you can read the freezing point of the antifreeze using the scale inside the tester and replace the antifreeze if necessary.
When it comes to oil changes, remember to do so every 3000-5000 miles, or at the car manufacturers’ recommended mileage interval, and always use a good quality, reputable oil brand and oil filter. Check your oil at least once a month and if it looks dark brown, it’s time to change it.
Driving in winter involves regularly using your windscreen wipers which often leads to dirt from the road surface getting trapped in the washer jets. If your wipers are still in good condition, all you need is Screen Wash. You can get a concentrated bottle and mix it with water yourself or simply buy one that is already mixed. It has a lower freezing temperature than water so your jets shouldn’t get clogged up.
Check Battery Condition
Car batteries do all the hard work behind the scenes and many people don’t realise their importance until the car won’t start. It gets even worse in cold and damp weather as it puts additional strain on the 12V battery. While cold weather makes it harder for normal engines to turn over, electric vehicles are also affected as it negatively impacts the power a battery can deliver.
If you haven’t changed your car battery for some time and your car struggles to start, it could be faulty and you need to have it checked. The cold weather also won’t help as you need the extra power for heaters and other electrical devices. In winter, your car battery becomes a critical component, even more than during the warmer months.
You can use a home battery tester but it’s always best (and easier) to see a battery expert. If you can start your car, drive to your local spares shop or an Elite service centre to buy a new one. Most of these places will even fit your battery.
Check Your Tyres
Checking tyres should be second nature in terms of car maintenance especially in winter when tyre pressure will be slightly down. Driving more frequently in wet weather means that the normal road debris also gets wet and can more easily cause tyres to puncture. The deeper your tyre tread, the less likely you will get a puncture.
Once your tread depth gets below 3mm there is a noticeable decrease in wet weather performance so consider changing them before getting down to the minimum tread depth. The legal limit is 1.6mm but always aim to be way above as it dramatically improves steering and braking. If your tyres are due to be replaced, winter is the perfect time to do it.
Recommended: 5 Things You Never Knew About Your Tyres
We’d recommend winter tyres if you frequently drive in winter as they provide superior grip even when the temperature drops below seven degrees. While they’re exceptionally effective in snow and ice, they also perform better than summer tyres when it’s wet.
They may not be as cheap as standard tyres but considering the often fatal consequences of road accidents during winter, they are well worth the investment for added safety. Many motorists actually buy a second set of wheels for their winter tyres while others swap them onto the same wheels. While you could do it yourself, it is a really tough job and one that a professional tyre fitter should perform.
Winter Safety Check And Emergency Equipment
We’ve touched on a few of the major elements of car maintenance and a winter safety check but what about winter car equipment? While there is no denying the importance of a first aid kit, here is a list of equipment you should add to your car especially when driving in winter conditions.
- A mobile phone and charger
- A hazard warning triangle
- High visibility vest
- De-icer, scraper and shovel
- Quality tow rope and jumper cables
- Wellington boots and warm clothes
- A torch
- Food and drink
- Good quality car mats
Top Tip: Quality car mats protect your carpets from wet or muddy feet but more importantly, you can wedge them under the driven wheels for additional traction to get you moving should you get really stuck.
If you’re looking for a friendly family-run business across the South for all your motoring needs, look no further than Elite Garages. We service all makes and models according to the manufacturer’s service schedule while offering competitive prices, excellent customer service with better value than dealerships.
Regardless of the car you drive or experience behind the wheel, anything can happen and it’s always better to prepare for all eventualities. If you are concerned in any way about the condition of your car heading into winter, book a free winter safety check with Elite Garages today. Our expert technicians are here to help you and your family with professional and friendly advice.