Preparing Your Car for Winter

this woman is prepared for winter with her car drinking coffee in the passenger seat

It’s not just you who needs extra protection from the plummeting temperatures. Preparing your car for winter helps protect against breakdowns and accidents, which in the short term can save you serious dollars and stress.

In the long term, it can help extend the lifespan of your car and improve its saleability when the time comes. (Here’s how to get the most from your car trade in).

So, a few cents and a bit of time spent now could pay off considerably in the long run. Plus, at it’s simplest, it’s satisfying to know you’re ready for the colder months.

Here’s how to effectively prepare your car for winter.

Preparing your car for winter: under the hood

Here’s where we tackle some of the key engine stuff so your car runs smoothly even as it gets colder. This is by no means exhaustive, but will kick things off for you.

  • Check the battery and have it replaced if necessary. Batteries tend to die more easily in winter because of the added strain caused by the cold weather. While you’re checking it, give the terminals a wipe down with warm soapy water to remove any built up grime. And remember to do an occasional longer drive to keep it charged.
  • Check your oil and coolant. The cold weather puts extra pressure on your oil filter, so a change of oil and filter is always welcome. At the very least, follow our tips on how to check the oil in your car. Remember to check your coolant/antifreeze level too, as this stops the engine from freezing during particularly cold snaps.
  • Get your car serviced before winter, especially if you have a major one coming up. While you’re thinking about services, check out our articles on how often you should service your car and whether capped price servicing is worth it.
  • Make sure your tyre pressure is at its optimum. Your tyres will last longer, you’ll use less petrol and you’ll be able to handle your car better. Winter roads can get slippery – make sure your tyres will give you the control you need. Read about why car tyre pressure is so important.

If you’re not confident checking these elements yourself, first find a mechanic and then get them to give your car a once over for peace of mind. Wondering how to choose a mechanic? Read this.

Then move along to the exterior of your car.

preparing your car for winter will make it safer to drive in wet conditions like these

Preparing your car for winter: the external bits

Just like humans; we’re taking a double pronged approach for winter. Nourish the inside with care and maintenance (ok, tea and chocolate) as outlined above, then protect the outside too.

But while we’re piling on the blankets and coats as protection, your car needs a little bit more consideration.

  • Is it time for a tyre change? You should always ensure you have enough tread on every tyre and that it’s evenly spread across the tyre surface. Worn tyres can be very dangerous in the best of conditions and are even worse in wet, icy, or snowy weather, as the tyres aren’t able to grip the road properly. Check the tread wear indicators on your tyres while you’re checking they’re correctly inflated. This is important for both safety and insurance reasons; if your car’s tyre treads are too worn, your insurance might not cover you in case of an accident.
  • Check the condition of your wiper blades and lights. Not only are ineffective wiper blades and lights annoying when it rains, they’re also dangerous. Wiper blades are not only important while driving, they’re an important weapon in clearing ice and dew from your windscreen on very frosty mornings, especially if you’re parked outside. And it goes without saying how important your fog lights and headlights are during misty and raining weather.
  • Wash and wax. Having a proper clean and a wax treatment applied can help to protect your car against frost, ice, rain, and mud. This means your car is less likely to be rusted or chipped when you hit spring.
  • Keep it indoors wherever possible. This will protect from rain, snow, rust, and freezing. Plus, you’ll be less likely to encounter hail. If you have to park outside, consider looking into a car hail protector.

See, we told you it was just a few quick tips. Your winter car care doesn’t have to be extreme or over the top. But getting it done could save you a lot of hassle and money over time.

Sort out your car insurance before winter

With worsening visibility, slipperier roads, shorter days, and intermittent bad weather – as well as drivers who are more jittery of such conditions – accidents are more likely to happen in winter.

If you haven’t got comprehensive car insurance, maybe it’s time to look into it?

Over to you

Let us know your top winter car care tips in the comments section below.

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