Cars feel the cold too. Now that winter is officially here, your vehicle will start feeling the effects, especially if left undriven for a certain period of time. To avoid having to fork out on a costly trip to the car doctor, here are some precautions that you can take.
Keep the battery warm
A car battery is a mixture of acid and water mixture. When it gets really cold it freezes and dies. A dead battery means a dead car – almost all your car’s functions including electronics, lighting and ignition are powered by your battery. Of course, you can easily prevent the battery from getting too cold by warming it up at least once a day. This means going for a drive every day for at least ten minutes. Given most of us would rather drive than walk in minus temperature conditions, this just shouldn’t be too hard. If you usually commute by train or work from home, just make sure you save some time in the evening to take your car for a spin (although not a literal spin – be careful on that ice!).
Don’t let the brakes break
With all the rain and ice, the winter months are when your brakes need to be working to their full potential. You should check your brakes with every other oil check (but, to be honest, none of us do that). Make sure your brakes aren’t rusting and that the feel of them when driving hasn’t changed. If you’re not sure if they’re safe, it may be worth taking your car down to the garage just to check – many mechanics will offer cheap break repairs.
Don’t let your tyres tire
For every ten degree drop in temperature, your tyres lose a pound in air pressure. To avoid driving on mushy tyres keep them regularly pumped up – almost all petrol stations will provide air for pumping tyres (although the fact they charge for ‘air’ always frustrates me). If conditions are likely to bad for a while, you may want to think about buying some winter tyres. These will help with your grip in the snow and ice and stop you from having to drive like a snail everywhere.
Take your windscreen wipers with you
Windscreen wipers can crack and freeze in extreme weather and then you have nothing to keep that rain off the windshield. One easy way to stop your windscreen wipers from disintegrating is to take them off when the car isn’t running. Store them in your home or in your car where they’ll be warmer – just don’t forget to put them back on before you drive! If they’ve already got damaged, you can easily replace them. Also keep an eye on wiper fluid, in case this runs out or freezes up.
Avoid oil clumps
The last thing you should try to check for is the consistency of the oil. Although oil won’t freeze, it can get thicker and congeal in sub-zero weather.