Cover image for 'How To Prepare Your Car For Winter'

How To Prepare Your Car For Winter

Published: 19 October 2022

As the nights are drawing in and the weather is getting colder, we have put together some tips on how to prepare your car for winter, some that you can do yourself and some that you should get a qualified mechanic to do. Any underlying issues with your car could be escalated as the temperature drops meaning it’s more likely to break down. This is what we want to avoid, it is not only best to do a full check-through before winter but do some quick ones regularly yourself. We don’t want you to end up with any extra unwanted garage costs.

Get a winter car service

To ensure your car is safe on the road this winter check your car service intervals to see whether you have a service due if you do get it done before winter. Or you can book it in for a winter car check where a mechanic will check the tyres, battery, coolant, windscreen wipers, lights and oil. We recommend doing some checks yourself to ensure your car is prepared for the winter weather, enter your vehicle registration here to find a garage near you to complete a winter service.

Check your car battery

With the damp and cold weather your vehicle’s battery can be under strain as the lower temperatures make it harder for your engine to turn over so essentially your battery is working harder in the cold conditions. It’s best to get your battery checked at a garage if you haven’t already to ensure there are no issues that could be amplified in the colder weather. The RAC has to deal with over 400,000 battery faults every winter, so it’s best to get them checked before the wet and icy conditions set in and cause extensive problems with the electrics.

Check your tyres

It is essential to keep your vehicle’s tyres in good condition especially as the weather gets colder and the roads potentially icy. 20% of breakdowns in the UK are caused by worn or incorrectly inflated tyres, this is why you should be checking them often, especially before a long journey. You can do a visual inspection of your tyres yourself just to make sure there are no cuts, tears, bulges, stones or nails in the tyres. We recommend getting into the habit of doing this at least once a month. 

To check the tyre pressure you will need a pressure gauge and for the tyres to be cool. There will be a recommended tyre pressure for your specific car/tyre that can either be found inside the driver’s door, inside the petrol cap or in the owner’s manual. If you can’t see this anywhere then it’s best to check online, if the reading is lower then inflate your tyres to match or if it’s higher let some air out.

Your tyre tread is what keeps you in control and steady on wet roads, essentially the greater your tyre tread the better your grip on the road. If your tyre tread starts to wear down then this leaves you at risk of aquaplaning. Considering the UK winter weather consists of a lot of rain usually, ensuring your tyre tread is all good is important. If your tyre tread does get low the tyre must be replaced. In the UK the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm but manufacturers and mechanics recommend you not let them get below 3mm.

It’s best to get into the habit of regularly checking your tyres this winter to ensure that they are still road legal and safe.

Top up your engine coolant and antifreeze

Engine coolant and antifreeze are essential when the temperatures are getting lower, as the name suggests this stops the water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing. Make sure you’re getting the measurements right, it should be a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze.

Quick Tips to Prepare your Car for Winter

We do recommend you have your services all up to date especially in the run up to winter and get all of the above checked however here are some smaller checks you can do daily to prepare your car for winter.

  • Fuel: Given the icy roads it’s likely on journeys that you will be going slower and in more traffic therefore start/stop conditions which uses up more fuel. Ensure you have enough fuel for the journey.
  • Oil: This is easy to do, just check your oil levels using the dip stick and top-up if needed then just ensure that you don’t overfill the oil and replace the cap fully.
  • Clean your lights: Clean lights are crucial for driving safely (it’s also the law) so they should be checked regularly but more so in the winter with the longer nights.
  • Wash your windscreen and wipers: Ensure your windscreen is clean both inside and outside and that your screenwash fluid is topped up with antifreeze.

What should you pack in your car for winter?

The UK winter weather is unpredictable and so in order to prepare for any eventuality this winter, here are our go to winter car essentials to ensure you’re prepared for any ‘just in case’ scenario.

  • Ice scraper & de-icer
  • Blanket
  • Jump Leads
  • Torch
  • Food, Water & Snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Spare batteries
  • Screenwash
  • A map

A ‘just in case’ scenario could be anything from being stuck in long lines of slow moving traffic to getting stuck in the snow, aquaplaning or having to take an alternative route due to road issues

To book in your winter car service to ensure your car is prepared for winter, enter your vehicle registration here and find your nearest garage.

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