Winter Car Maintenance: 9 Things You Need To Check

It’s no secret that winter can take a toll on your car. From the cold and wind to the snow and ice, there are a lot of things that can damage your vehicle and put you at a higher risk of breakdowns. That’s why it’s important to follow a winter maintenance checklist. By taking care of your car now, you’ll help ensure that it stays in good condition all season long.

Simple Winter Car Maintenance Checklist

Winter is the time of the year when looking after your car is especially important since adverse weather conditions often result in collisions or road accidents and breakdowns associated with poor vehicle maintenance. As such, here are 9 simple (but vital) checks to do as part of your winter car maintenance schedule.

1. Get a winter car service

Keeping your car in good condition during the winter is essential for ensuring your safety and that of other road users. The best way to get your car ready for winter is to book a service early on which will help identify any potential issues before they become major headaches.

By following proper winter car maintenance, you could greatly reduce the risk of breaking down, at least in terms of mechanical issues. The price of a basic winter car service at Elite Garages is from £103 while a premium winter car service is from £180. Book a car service at Elite Garages online now.

2. Checks for car batteries

Car batteries should be a part of your winter car maintenance checklist as a flat car battery is one of the most common causes of breakdowns in winter. There are a few easy ways to check if your battery is in good condition:

  • Check the battery terminals for corrosion. If they’re covered in a white powdery substance, it’s time to clean them or replace the battery.
  • Check the level of electrolytes in the battery. If it’s low, top it up with distilled water.
  • Use a voltmeter to check the voltage. If it’s below 12 volts, your battery is probably flat and will need to be recharged or replaced.

winter car maintenance and battery checks

If you’re not confident in doing this yourself, visit your nearest Elite Garages branch where our experts will carry out the necessary checks for you.

3. Top up your engine coolant with antifreeze

It’s important to keep your car’s coolant level topped up with antifreeze, especially in cold temperatures. Antifreeze lowers the freezing point of water, so it helps to prevent your engine from freezing in cold weather. It also raises the boiling point of water, which helps to prevent your engine from overheating in summer. If you’re not sure how much antifreeze to add to your car, consult your owner’s manual or ask a qualified mechanic. Speaking of fluids and winter car maintenance, don’t forget to check and top-up your screen wash.

4. Check your tyres

If they aren’t already, tyre checks should be at the top of your winter car maintenance priority list as they are one of the most important parts of your car. Making sure they’re in good condition is essential to keeping you safe on the road:

  • Make sure your tread depth is above the UK legal minimum limit of 1.6mm, although it’s a good idea to aim for at least 3mm
  • Use a tread depth gauge or the ’20p test’
  • Check your tyres for any signs of damage (cracks, cuts or bulges)
  • Check your tyre pressure regularly as incorrect pressure can lead to poor fuel economy and increased wear and tear
  • Book a wheel alignment as misaligned wheels can impact fuel economy and result in premature wear and tear
  • Consider buying winter tyres as they provide better grip than summer tyres

If you suspect anything may be wrong with your tyres, book a free tyre check at Elite Garages. Our technicians will arrange either a tyre repair or a tyre replacement.

20p coin test for tyres in Eastbourne

5. Clean your lights

While you may not think about it often, your car’s lights play a significant role in keeping you safe on the road. Not only do they help you see where you’re going, but they also allow other drivers to see your car more easily. This is especially important during the winter months with reduced visibility. Make sure to clean your lights properly by wiping down the lens and removing any debris that may have accumulated. It’s also a good idea to check the bulbs themselves to make sure they’re still working properly and to wipe the inside of the lens when changing the bulbs.

6. Wash your windscreen and check your wiper blades

It is also important to clean your windscreen as part of your regular winter car maintenance. Windscreens can quickly get dirty and if you don’t clean them regularly, you will find it harder to see when driving, which can be very dangerous.

Your windscreen wipers are also important in the winter months. They need to be in good condition to effectively clear away rain, not to mention any build-up of snow or ice. If your wipers are old or worn out, they may not work as well as they should and can impair your visibility. Follow these easy tips to keep them streak-free:

  • Wipe the rain off the windscreen before grime accumulates on the glass
  • Use a mild detergent and lukewarm water to wash your windscreen
  • Never use harsh chemicals or hot water
  • Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth or paper towel
  • Remember to top up your screen wash as well

Related: When Should I Replace My Windscreen Wipers?

7. Prepare for longer journeys

Driving in wintery conditions is never easy and you often have to prepare yourself for potentially longer journeys. If possible, avoid travelling when bad weather hits but if you don’t have a choice, there are a few winter car maintenance checks that should help:

  • If you do need to travel, allow plenty of time for journeys as anything can happen
  • Plan your route beforehand as challenging road conditions could slow down traffic and cause delays
  • Check that you have plenty of fuel. We recommend keeping at least a quarter of a tank
  • Drive slowly and leave more distance between you and the vehicle in front
  • Since potholes are more common in the winter, pay close attention to the road as they aren’t always clearly visible

8. Carry a winter car kit

Carrying a winter car kit should be part of any winter car maintenance checklist as it will help you in the event of an emergency. It’s always a good idea to have one in the boot of your car in case of a breakdown or accident and here are some of the items to include in your winter car emergency kit:

  • Jumper cables in case of a flat battery
  • De-icer (shovel and ice scraper)
  • Bag of sand or kitty litter to help give your tyres traction if you get stuck in the snow
  • Torch and extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit
  • High-vis jacket
  • Blankets and warm clothes to keep you cosy until help arrives
  • A mobile phone charger
  • Some snacks and extra water in the event that you have to wait long for roadside assistance

9. Check your breakdown cover

One of the things you should check as part of your winter car maintenance is your breakdown cover. Make sure you have the right level of cover for your needs, and that it includes roadside assistance. This can be vital if you break down in adverse weather conditions and need help getting back on the road.

If you’re not already covered, now is a great time to take out a policy. Many breakdown providers offer specials so be sure to shop around and compare breakdown deals to get the best value for money. Some providers include the AA, RAC, Rescue My Car and Allianz Assistance.

Winter Car Maintenance And Advanced Driving Tips

As we’ve established, winter car maintenance is vital and it’s not as difficult as you might think, especially if you follow the advice in this guide. To help you even further, here are some winter driving tips to help keep you and your family safe on the roads.

Tips For Driving In Snow

When driving in the snow, it is important to take some extra precautions to ensure your safety. Here’s what you need to include in your winter car maintenance and winter driving checklist:

  • Slow down and don’t make any sudden movements. This will help you maintain control of your car and avoid sliding on the ice
  • Don’t rely on cruise control as you may need to adjust your speed quickly if necessary
  • Increase your following distance as it takes longer to stop on icy roads
  • Use your headlight to help you see better and for other drivers to clearly see you
  • Be extra careful on bridges and overpasses as they tend to freeze first and can be very slick
  • Watch out for black ice – a thin layer of ice that can be hard to see and very treacherous. If you suspect there may be black ice ahead, slow down and proceed with caution

Tips For Driving In The Rain

Driving in the rain can be a nightmare as the roads are slippery, visibility is reduced, and the weather conditions can change on a whim. Make sure your car is prepared for the worst by following our Elite winter car maintenance checklist and winter driving tips.

  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and working properly
  • Drive slower than you would normally drive in dry conditions
  • Increase your following distance from the car in front of you
  • Use your low-beam headlights, even during daytime hours.
  • Be extra careful at intersections as they can be especially slick and dangerous in wet weather
  • Watch out for pedestrians who are often harder to spot in rainy conditions
  • If you start to hydroplane, ease off the accelerator and do not brake suddenly. Instead, gently steer in the direction you want to go until you regain traction.

How To Drive In Fog

Effective winter car maintenance also extends to driving safely in foggy conditions by doing the following:

  • Drive slower than you would in clear weather
  • Use your low-beam headlights or fog lights
  • Don’t use your high beams, as they will reflect off the fog and make it harder to see
  • Be extra vigilant when looking out for other vehicles, pedestrians, and animals
  • Use your windshield wipers to keep your windshield clear
  • If the fog is thick, pull over and wait until it clears before continuing your journey.

Winter Car Maintenance: Book A Free Winter Safety Check

To keep you and your family safe, winter car maintenance is an important task that you simply cannot ignore! Make sure to schedule a free winter safety check from our team of experts at Elite Garages. They will discuss all the important topics, such as fluids, brakes, tyres and batteries among others. Our friendly and professional team will provide you with a detailed breakdown of anything that may need repairing or replacing.