Driving during the winter months can be a challenge with difficult driving conditions and the colder weather putting additional stress on your car. Plummeting temperatures and bad weather increase the number of breakdowns throughout the winter months. There are some precautions you can take, so read through our checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything and find out what you need for your winter car check.n this text to edit it. 

How To Prepare Your Car For Winter 

Check Tyre Depths 

Possibly the most important winter car check you can make is your tyres. Well-maintained tyres are vital for grip on icy, wet surfaces. The legal minimum tyre tread depth for cars in the UK and Europe is 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three-quarters of the tyre. You can check your tyre tread depth using either a tyre gauge, the marker bars on your tyre or even a 20 pence coin. If you cannot see the outer band of the 20p, your tyres are within the legal limit. The RAC recommends changing your tyres before they get to the low limit with ideally a minimum tread depth of 3mm in icy or wet conditions. It’s also recommended you check your tyres every fortnight and before long journeys. 

Top Up Your Car With Antifreeze 

Antifreeze is a liquid that's added to a car's engine cooling system which stops the water from freezing in cold weather conditions. If the water did freeze it'd cause some serious and expensive damage to the radiator and other components. 

Check Your Battery 

Your vehicle’s engine requires more power to start when the temperatures are colder, so your battery has a harder job during the cold winter months. It makes sense to have your electrical system tested, including your battery and alternator, before winter. You can check the battery using a voltmeter to make sure it’s in good condition: your voltmeter should read 12.4 volts or higher. Keep the battery fully charged throughout the winter by using a battery charger or maintainer, especially if you make frequent short drives of less than a mile. 
According to both the RAC and Green Flag, a flat or faulty battery is the number one cause of vehicle breakdowns, and the risk of battery failure is greater in cold, wet weather. 

Invest In a Winter Driving Kit 

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail is a well-known phrase which is never more true than when driving in the winter. A lengthy traffic jam or wait for recovery is so much more uncomfortable in cold, winter weather. The following winter driving kit products are the recommended emergency items to keep in your vehicle. 
Ice scraper and de-icer 
Warm clothes and blanket 
Spade or shovel - for if you get caught in a snow drift 
First-aid kit 
Empty fuel cn 
Food and drink 
Reflective warning signs 

Check Wiper Blades And Top Up On Windscreen Wash 

Keep your wipers in good condition so they clean your windscreen properly. Don’t pull wiper blades off frozen glass or turn them on if the screen is iced over, as the rubber may tear. Try to get in the habit of turning your windscreen wipers off at the end of the journey so they don’t automatically start when you turn the engine on and then tear because the rubber is stuck to the glass. 
Ensure you keep your washer fluid topped up – it’s surprising how often you need to do this in the winter when wet, muddy or salty roads increase the spray hitting your windscreen. It is illegal and dangerous to have an empty screen washer bottle in your car. 

Check Your Brakes 

A very important part of your winter car check is making sure your brakes are up to scratch. Your brakes need to be in excellent condition, especially in winter. If you’re driving after a few days left unused in the cold, set off slowly in case the brake discs, callipers or handbrake have frozen up. 

Check Your Oil Lights And Don’t Let Your Fuel Levels Get Too Low 

The RAC states one in three vehicles its patrols attend are dangerously low on oil, which can lead to engine damage or breakdown. So, check your oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car's dipstick; you should check the oil level once your car is fully warmed up because a cold car will look low on oil. Remember, though, too much oil can be as bad as too little. 
You should check you have plenty of fuel in your tank, too. Try to fill up before your fuel light comes on. 

Keep Your Car Clean 

This might be a strange one, but winter can be hard on cars, with water, road salt and dirt leaving their mark. Wash your car in bad weather to ensure that you’re maintaining the underside of your vehicle and protecting your paintwork from corrosion. 
It’s particularly important to keep your lights clean as, according to road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, you can lose an estimated 40% of luminosity in about 20 miles on a damp, gritted motorway. 
Wipe your lights regularly with a cloth if your car doesn’t have headlamp washers. You could face a fine if you drive around with an unreadable registration plate, so keep that clean, too. 

Check Your Breakdown Cover 

Comprehensive breakdown cover is a great benefit in the winter. It will give you the peace of mind of knowing you won’t end up stranded in the cold. Check your policy and remember to take a contact phone number with you on all journeys 

Make Sure Your Winter Car Service Is Up To Date 

Like many of the winter car check tips above, an up-to-date service is important all year round, but winter just makes it that bit more urgent. 
A service is usually recommended every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes sooner, but every car is different, so check your car’s model. Regularly servicing and maintaining your car can help prevent a lot of the issues caused by the cold winter weather. A winter car service is something we can help you with here at Barratt-Lee, along with any of the other points in the winter car check. 
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