How to prepare your car for winter
There are a few simple ways to get your car ready for the colder months, from carrying extra bits and bobs in the boot, to checking your tyres. Here are all our top tips to get you through winter.
- Check your liquid levels: screenwash, anti-freeze, coolant, oil, fuel
- Check your car battery
- Clean your windows inside and out
- Clean your lights
- Check your tyres
- Consider fitting winter tyres
- Check your wiper blades
- Clear leaves from under your bonnet
- Carry your phone charger with you
- Consider buying a car cover
- Make a winter car survival kit
If your car is due for a service, it would be worth getting this done before winter sets in. Some garages offer winter specific services.
You can buy a small camping shovel for around £5-7, and look at getting a first aid kit, torch, warning triangle, jump leads, spare carpet to use if your tyres are stuck/spinning, and tow-rope as well. If you’ve got a spare coat, throw that in the boot, along with a hi-vis jacket, and some boots/wellies and other warm clothes. Also carry some food, such as high-energy cereal bars, which will also help if you forget to have breakfast.
Also check the battery terminals are clean and tight. If there is any corrosion, you can try to clean it off, although if there is any obvious damage to the outside of the battery, leave it to a professional to check it.
If you do want to clean it yourself, make sure you disconnect the battery first, starting with the negative (usually black), or you could get a shock when you touch the positive. Reconnect the negative last, too.
You can then clean the terminals with a mix of warm water and baking soda (a strong mix), which will fizz, don't panic. Use an old toothbrush or wire brush for this, and dry the connections after with some paper towels.
Apply some petroleum jelly to the exposed metal bits to help prevent future corrosion.
Also check you’ve got the correct tyre pressure – you can find the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) figure in your manual, or online. If it needs topping up, there’s an air pump at most petrol stations, or you can buy a kit to keep at home.
It’s worth thinking about changing to a set of winter tyres. They will give you more grip and shorter stopping distances in poor conditions. And you don’t need snow and ice to get the benefit: as long as the temperature remains below seven degrees Celsius, they’re better than the equivalent summer tyre.
And write your breakdown number on a piece of paper in the glovebox, as well as having it saved on your phone.
There are two people in this world: those that top up their fuel when they’re basically running on air, and those that re-fuel when the tank is half full. In winter, especially, try to be the latter!
Check your coolant level is between the min and max mark. It shouldn’t need topping up, but do double check. If it does, you’ll need to get your car to a garage. And remember, don’t open the filler cap unless the engine is cold.
You’ll need more screenwash in winter due to all the extra dirt around, so keep an eye on this, and make sure you have enough. Also use proper screenwash rather than just water, so it doesn’t freeze. But don’t put anti-freeze in your washer bottle!
Check your oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark, and top it up if needed.