Running and maintaining a car is a costly business these days and as the weather gets colder and the nights become darker, it makes sense to consider winter car maintenance and ways in which we can protect our cars from the elements.
Insurers would prefer us to keep our cars nicely locked up in a garage of course, but with land space at a premium and many houses and apartments being built without garages, lots of us are forced to keep our cars on a driveway or parked on the road – hopefully near to our home!
Winter car maintenance tips
Here are some tips you may find useful to weatherproof your vehicle and increase its security during the winter months.
Consider a carport
If you don’t have a garage but you do have some space on your property, installing a carport from a specialist provider such as 123v will give you the advantage of off-road parking without the expense of building a garage – and the annoyance of having to fight for a parking space.
A carport is a covered structure which can either be free-standing or attached to a wall and has a canopy which offers protection for your vehicle from extreme weather conditions and can be tailored to fit around any driveway area. These can prevent rain, frost and snow from collecting on your vehicle and allow you to leave your home on time – without spending time digging your car out of the snow!
Keep your car extra clean
Make sure you regularly wash your vehicle to get rid of any salt or grit. You’ll need to clean the underside of your car too.
Your lights will benefit from being kept sparkling too to ensure you can see and are seen on the road.
Keep your car waxed & sealed
You can protect your car against the elements by keeping it waxed and polished. Bad weather can make your car more susceptible to rust and oxidation. You can buy car waxes specially designed to protect your vehicle’s surface from road salt and snow, for example, Turtle Wax Ice Liquid or Paste Wax. They recommend that you concentrate on the lower parts of your car – behind the wheels, quarter panels, and front grille where ice, snow and salt have the greatest effect.
Make sure you check that your car’s fluid levels are accurate. Don’t forget to replace or top up summer windshield wiper fluid with one suitable for winter that won’t freeze when the temperature drops.
Check your antifreeze and oil levels to prevent internal damage to your car.
It’s also a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half full to help just in case you get stranded somewhere miles from a petrol station!
Check wheels & tyres
If you’re going to doing a lot of driving, for example, you’re driving home for Christmas, you might want to invest in a set of winter tyres. These tyres, more commonly called cold weather tyres, are made from a softer material which means that they are soft enough to grip in temperatures below 7 degrees centigrade. They also have different tread patterns which allow the tyre to bite into the snow better.
A car fitted with winter tyres should stop more quickly and be less prone to skidding in any weather conditions if the temperature drops below the 7 degrees mark.
Otherwise, check your current tyres for wear and tear and ensure that they are inflated to the correct pressure. You’ll need to check this more frequently in winter as the cold will make your tyre pressure drop. You can also use a high-quality tyre dressing to provide a barrier to the elements.
If you live in a rural area you may want to keep a set of tyre chains in your boot.
Check your windscreen wipers
The time to replace these and check for wear and tear is before the bad weather sets in. Make sure you have a good stock of de-icer and an ice scraper to hand – although I’m sure we’ve all used a credit card for this purpose when pushed.
Inspect your battery
You can guarantee that you’ll discover your battery is flat on the morning which it’s vital you get somewhere on time! Check your battery for signs of corrosion and invest in a battery charger.
Make sure you’re properly prepared for winter journeys
It makes sense to go fully prepared. As well as plenty of de-icer and your ice scraper, make sure you’ve got warning signs, snacks, water, blankets, torches and a shovel to dig yourself out! Don’t forget to check out my suggestions if your little ones suffer from car sickness too!
It’s a good idea to check your breakdown cover is in place and that your policy will get you to where you want to go. For example, some policies will only cover a home start – not much use if you’re stranded on the M25.
A bit of investment in some extra care and some winter car maintenance may help keep you safe and your car on the road for longer.