The Foray Guide to Winter Car Care

Summer is now a distant memory as heavy downpours and strong winds begin to batter the UK during the winter months.

The deteriorating weather means that it is now even more important to spend time keeping your car in tip-top condition. As a helping hand, the Foray guide to winter car care has compiled the opinions of car experts on what checks you should carry out to keep your car in great condition.

If you are considering buying a used car from car sales in Andover or in the rest of the UK, then some of these tips should be considered before you hand over your hard-earned cash.

Use your air conditioning

Dave, the editor of American Car Magazine, recommends using your air conditioning regularly throughout the winter.

He said, “You should use the air-con at least weekly to prevent the seals in the system drying and cracking, plus hot, dry air via the air-con system will demist your windscreen much quicker than fresh air.”

American car magazine

Tyres

When discussing a winter car care plan then making a number of checks on your car’s tyres is a must, especially if you are driving in snowy or icy conditions.

Think about using winter tyres

Martyn Knowles, who is the editor of motoring publication Car Mechanics Magazine, says drivers should look into getting specialist winter tyres.

He said, “Consider winter tyres – using six months of the year. Winter tyres can be used all year round, but tend to wear more than summer tyres when the conditions are dry.”

Car Mechanics Magazine

Tyre Pressure

Ian Robertson, editor and publisher of Diesel Car Magazine, suggests looking at the tyre pressure as one of your regular checks.

He says, “Regular checks will ensure that motorists don't get caught out in wintry conditions.

“Check tyre pressures, fluid levels and make sure that all lights are in perfect working order.”

Diesel Car Magazine

Having the correct tyre pressure is essential as under-inflated tyres can affect handling and grip and can potentially cause a crash.

Check your car manual to see what the optimum tyre pressure is as this will not only make your car safer to drive, but will also reduce running costs.

Tread Depth

Checking the tyre tread is another essential tyre check as you must ensure that it is over the minimum depth of 1.6mm. If it is below this, you need to purchase new ones as you can get pulled over and potentially fined as well as being dangerous to you and other drivers on the road.

The Lights

With the days growing ever shorter, much of your weekly commute or weekend drives could be endured through darkness - meaning having a clear view of the road ahead is imperative.

Will Wynn, the owner of car website My Car Heaven, says, “Make sure all your lights are in tip top condition, and even consider updating them with the latest bulbs that give more light.”

Replace Burnt Bulbs

Check that any bulbs which have burnt out are replaced. It's illegal to drive with one light out, but not replacing broken lights can also seriously hinder your visibility.

If one of your rear lights is out then drivers behind you may not be able to see you or distinguish the size of your car. It is also important to check your full beam and hazard lights.

Clean the Light Casing

You should clean the light casing, as the build-up of dirt and sediment can reduce the brightness of your car’s lights.

Align your Lights

In the majority of new cars from Ford dealers in Hampshire and other car dealerships across the rest of the country, the direction of the headlights can be changed to offer the best visibility and to stop you blinding those travelling in the opposite direction. As you'll be using your lights a lot more, be sure that they are aligned correctly.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Cleaning your car out and packing an emergency kit should your car break down is a really sensible idea as then no matter what winter has in store you are fully prepared.

Will Wynn of Car Heaven, adds, “In our cars I always keep instant hand warmers, hat, gloves, a thick rug, a mobile phone charger, and a torch, just in case...you never know.”

Car Mechanics Magazine’s Martyn Knowles, adds, “Useful items to consider carrying in the vehicle include: spare clothes, boots, blankets, bottled water, non-perishable food, jump leads or a booster pack, LED torch, lightbulb kit, fuel can. Plus either snow chains or snow socks, a snow shovel and de-icer.”

Other useful items to include within your emergency kit include:

  • First-aid kit
  • Basic tool kit
  • Transistor radio
  • Extra car battery (if you have enough room)
First aid kit

Engine

Check the engine bay, coolant reservoir and antifreeze levels

Martyn Knowles recommends drivers to check their vehicles before winter really sets in and a vital search is to take a look at your vehicle’s engine bay, coolant reservoir and antifreeze levels.

He added, “Use a torch to search the engine bay for any signs of coolant leaks around hose joints. Make sure the coolant reservoir is up to the max mark with the engine cold and use a dedicated tester to check the strength of the antifreeze. A 50/50 solution that protects the engine down to minus 30°C is ideal. If the engine has a substandard solution, there's a possibility that it will freeze and cause excessive damage, water pump failure, coolant leaks, head gasket failure, ruptured radiators/hoses – the list is endless.”

Drivers need to be extra diligent when it comes to the level of antifreeze in their vehicle. As a general rule of thumb, the antifreeze inside a vehicle should be flushed and replaced every two years, so this could be something you need to do before the temperatures begin to plummet.

Check oil

Be conscientious about changing oil and filter at recommended levels as dirty oil can cause all sorts of problems in winter.

You could ask car dealerships or mechanics about whether it is worth changing to ‘winter weight’ oil if temperatures get really low.

Dipstick

Check battery

Before winter really hits, it is vital that you check the battery in your car as well as the charging system.

Cold weather really affects batteries in cars and other vehicles so being one step ahead and getting it checked by a mechanic or checking it yourself could save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Car brakes

Testing that your car brakes work is not something that should just be done during the winter months, but should be regularly checked.

However, with winter often bringing cold and icy conditions to the UK it is even more essential that your car brakes are checked. Brakes are the most important safety item on your vehicle so it is important that they are fully functioning.

Windscreen wipers

Keeping your vehicle’s windscreen and other windows clear is extremely important and if your vision is obscured through snow then it can cause a hazard to you and other drivers.

That is why it is important to check that your windscreen wipers are working properly is very important. If they are damaged or are not clearing your windscreen properly then you need to get them replaced as soon as possible.

Also make sure that your wipers are switched off when you park your car as should it freeze the blades could stick to your windscreen and this would not only damage the wipers, but could break your wiper motor.

Windscreen wipers

Contact us for a Complete Service

If you haven't had your Focus, Fiesta, Ka or other vehicle serviced for quite some time, it's recommended that you take it in for a full service at a certified Ford dealership - such as Foray Motor Group. We can use our knowledge and expertise to get your car set up correctly for the testing months ahead.

Image Credit: American Car Magazine, Car Mechanics Magazine, Diesel Car Magazine, DLG Images, Evan Mitchell, Sigfrid Lundberg (flickr.com)

This content was written by James Dart. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.