‘Tis the season for shopping and partying! But while you’re living large, don’t forget your little bug, parked outside in the cold. This is one friend who is invaluable on those Christmas shopping expeditions!
Remember that your car doesn’t like being out in the freezing cold any more than you do – so do yourselves both a favour and follow this simple 10-point guide:
1 – Frost on your windscreen is a nuisance – if you want to get ahead, secure newspaper under the wiper blades overnight. The ice won’t get a chance to form on the screen – and you can hop in and drive off (carefully!) the morning after. Prevention is better than cure!
2 - If you really need a cure, the best investment is a sturdy scraper – not a cashcard or CD case! There are also terrific de-icing sprays on the market. The one thing you must never do is put hot water near a frosted windscreen. Cracked screens are so not a good look and fixing them is pricey.
3 - Make sure your screen-wash is kept topped up with about 50/50 water and anti-freeze – read your manual or anti-freeze bottle for exact specifications. As with other car fluids, check your oil, particularly for consistency – the cold has a tendency to thicken it. The start of winter should see an oil and filter change, recommended every 3,000 miles.
4 – Don’t forget the tyres. Check them for wear and replace if balding or badly worn. Make sure you keep the pressure topped up for proper vehicle control – the appropriate pressures will be in your manual. You should be checking them every four to six weeks, whatever the weather – and don’t forget the spare!
5 – Keep an eye on your brake pads. If you’re not sure, you should have your brakes professionally inspected, as good brakes are essential for icy weather. If they are worn out, they are a danger.
6 – Check every light is working as it should be – the darker evenings and general bad weather mean that your car is less likely to be seen, so give it the best chance you can.
7 - In the cold, the car battery works much harder to achieve the same effect – a bit like when you crank up the elevation on the treadmill! If the battery is more than three years old, replace it. Keep contacts free of corrosion, and look out for discharge. Don’t forget to use gloves and eye protection when near battery acid.
8 – Don’t let car washing fall by the wayside now it’s chilly outside – salt from the grit they spread on the roads can cause corrosion if left on the car, so keep it clean! Make a trip to the carwash or grab a young nephew to help.
9 – Keep your petrol tank at least half full and you will help reduce moisture problems in the fuel system.
10 – Check the condition of the drive belts. Shiny, frayed or cracked belts should be replaced. For tips, see the owner’s manual.
It may seem like a hassle, but check out these flashpoints before motoring and you won’t be sorry. Give that four-wheeled filly a little bit of Winter Car Care TLC and she’ll pay you back with good service!