How to look after your car this winter

By Jamie Hill - 3 December 2020


As the nights draw in and the temperature plummets, you might be looking forward to cosy nights on the sofa and days spent dodging the cold weather. But while you can easily shelter from the elements, your car won’t be so lucky if it’s not kept in a garage and the changing seasons can put a real strain on your motor’s systems and appearance.

If your car’s seen better days, a cold snap might see the end of it, in which case a long-term loan could help you find a new set of wheels.

But if you’re determined to see your car though another winter, here are the things you need to do.

Give everything a proper check

And we mean everything.

Checking the condition of your tyres and brakes should be a top priority. With more rain, and the chance of frost, ice and snow too, driving conditions are always a bit trickier to handle at this time of year. More tread and better stopping power are crucial tools when driving in slippery conditions.

But that’s not all. Do all your car’s electrical systems work OK? Are all your lights bright enough? Is the battery strong? Are your tyre pressures right? Has the engine got enough oil in it?

You’re much better off finding these things out on your driveway than the hard shoulder in wintry weather!

Is your antifreeze full?

Your car’s cooling system will have antifreeze in it to protect it against the colder weather. But it could be running low if your car is a bit older or has not been recently serviced.

You can buy antifreeze testing kits, but if you’re not so confident getting under the hood, it’s well worth your while taking your car to a local garage to find out for sure.

It’s a fairly simple job and shouldn’t set you back more than £50 to get fixed.

Taking care of your screen

The wetter weather means more dirt and grime will be flying up onto your windscreen when you’re out and about on the roads.

Of course, your windscreen washer should do the trick, but make sure you’ve got a winter product in your car. These typically come with antifreeze included and can also help blast away any bits of frost that gather overnight.

If your windscreen is completely covered in ice, do not put boiling water on it – no matter how much in a rush you are.

The sudden change of temperature could crack your windscreen and leave you with a hefty bill.

Winter driving tips

Taking care of your car doesn’t stop once you get behind the wheel. Your car is likely to use more fuel at winter as your crank up the heating and possibly take more journeys in it, so always be wary of how much fuel you’ve got on board.

Plan your journeys well in advance and try to stick to main roads if conditions are set to be bad as they are more likely to be gritted and safer to travel on.

Similarly, as much as we all try to avoid accidents and breakdowns, they can still happen. Be prepared for all eventualities and pack some warm clothes and wellies or walking boots if possible, so that you’re able to stay warm if you do have to get out at the roadside in the worst of the weather.

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