Winter is the most difficult time of year for cars, with the temperature drop bringing an increase in mechanical failures.
But don’t worry: we’ve provided a rundown of some advice in how to avoid breaking down during the winter months.
1. Check the Coolant Level
Check the coolant levels when the engine is cold; if you need to top it up, look in your handbook for the correct coolant mix. Going forward, always check your coolant levels before a long journey.
2. Check Your Screen Wash
Dirt and grit increase on the winter roads, so keeping the windscreen clean is essential. Top the level up with a screen wash additive and water, which prevents the screen wash freezing.
3. Check the Oil
Check the oil levels to ensure they’re between minimum and maximum levels. For the correct oil spec, refer to your local dealer or the owner’s handbook.
4. Check the Battery
Check the battery terminals are tight. If they’re dirty, wash the corrosion off with hot water and apply petroleum jelly after.
Being the connection between you and the road, your tyres should be continuously checked for signs of wear and tear – this includes cracks, splits, bulges, pressure and tread depth. A minimum of 3mm on the tread is advised for traction and grip.
Checking that all your lights work is a must, but with the winter months bringing extra dirt and muck to the roads, it’s just as important to clean the lenses such that the light can fully shine through.
7. Wiper Blades
Check the wiper blades for splits and cracks, as they will need replacing on occasion. They can also get frozen to the windscreen, in which case you need to use a de-icer or demister device.
Charging the System
The charging system should be checked by a garage, to find out if it and the battery are in working order.
Preparing for a breakdown
You can make all the preparation in the world, but a car can still break down. Make sure you keep warm clothes, food and drink, and a torch considering any breakdown happening.
Winter Driving Tips
- Cars tend to use up more fuel during the winter, so always keep your tank full
- If the weather is bad, plan your journey in advance; for example, look up the weather forecast to see if common routes are no longer accessible. In some cases, you may want to consider not journeying altogether.
- Try to avoid small roads, or hilly areas – main roads will be utilised for winter driving.
- Make sure your phone is charged, as well as having an in-car charger, so that friends and family are aware of your location should any problems occur.
Driving in snow
- Increase stopping distance by as much as ten times the general amount
- Drive slowly, break and accelerate smoothly
- Clear the windows, numbers, lights and roof of all snow
Driving in Rain
- Stopping distances are twice as lengthy during wet weather
- Avoid deep/large puddles, in case they’re hiding dips in the road
Driving in strong wind
- If the winds affect your steering ability, slow down and keep both your hands on the wheel
- The strength of the wind might be such that working is not necessary; prioritise your safety always
Driving in Fog
- Switching your fog lights on increases your visibility to other drivers, whilst keeping the windows open increases your ability to hear other cars
- Increase the general space between you and other cars, in case you’re required to stop suddenly
Driving in low sunshine
- Use sun visors and keep your windscreen clean
- Keep a pair of sunglasses handy in the car always
Preparing for Winter… Before Winter!
The best thing to do next time would be booking a service ahead of the winter season, so that any problems with the car can be fixed before they get out of hand. Book an appointment with one of our mechanics and we’ll be able to sort out any problems with your pco car rental, ensuring your winter is a smooth one. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact us and get a rundown of everything your car needs before getting back on the road.