Having something go wrong with your car is never ideal, but when it’s cold, dark and wet and you’re sat on the side of the road waiting for roadside recovery, you’re definitely going to be thinking what you could’ve done to avoid this.
Whilst a lot of the time it’s just sheer bad luck, there are times when simple car checks would’ve prevented a rather large bill coming your way. And with Christmas looming, no one wants to be forking out for something that could’ve been prevented.
With that in mind we’ve put together some simple car checks that could see your motor through the worst of the winter weather.
Oil is the lifeblood of your engine, and when it’s running low it can cause some seriously expensive damage to repair.
Checking your levels is nice and easy, just use your dipstick to check oil levels every couple of weeks, and before any long journey, and top up if needed.
If you’re noticing that you’re having to top it up more than usual it might be worth popping your car to a garage to get it checked.
Your windscreen wipers are a key tool to driving safely in the winter months when the rain becomes just another part of daily life. Check the blades for any splits in the rubber edge which could prevent the wiper from clearing water or leave streaks in the line of view. Any of these are a giveaway that they need to be replaced to prevent smearing.
Modern cars are mostly fitted with a sealed cooling system so they shouldn’t need their coolant topping up unless they’ve sprung a leak. However, some cars will still require coolant adding if it gets low, and it’s important to know how to check and top up.
Make sure you’re doing these checks before you set off on any long journeys, but in the winter months it’s also worth doing these simple checks once a month just to make sure your car is in good nick.
During the winter months your windscreen wipers are going to be used a lot; so having your screenwash topped up will help you get rid of all the grime that finds its way onto your windscreen and will also help you avoid getting a ticket from the police.
Having lights that don’t work is a dangerous issue, especially in the winter months when your headlights are on more than they’re not.
Although the police are unlikely to fine you for having defective lights, they could still pull you over. And you will undoubtedly fail your MOT test if your lights are broken or the bulbs need changing.
Get someone to check your lights as you flick them on and off from the driver’s seat. Check your indicators, lights, full beams, break lights and fog lights.
Any small little chip in your windscreen will only become worse over the winter months as water gets into it and freezes. Make sure you get them fixed as soon as you notice them to avoid the chip turning into a crack and the windscreen needing to be replaced.
Having your tyre pressure topped up can not only prolong the life of the tyres but also helps to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe on the road.
Your vehicle handbook will have your recommended front and rear tyre pressure in, and you should be able to check your tyre pressure at most garage forecourts or at home using a digital tyre inflator.
When you check the pressure, make sure you also check the tread depth on all your tyres to make sure they’re legal and safe.
The legal limit in the UK is 1.6mm of tread across the central ¾ of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre.
You can use a tread depth indicator to measure this but if you haven’t got one of those, grab a 20p and stand it up in the tread groove. If you can see the outer edge of the 20p piece then it’s time to replace that tyre.
Tyres are the foundation to your car and so their condition should be checked regularly to make sure they’re still roadworthy.
Check for any anomalies such as cracking and bulging in both the tread area and sidewall.
If you’re at all unsure about the condition of your tyres, contact your local centre for tyre care advice.
With the arrival of winter brings the cold temperatures, and there is little worse than being in a cold car when it could have been avoided.
You’ll soon find out if there’s a problem, but it’s better to test it before you actually need it so if there’s a problem you can get it fixed before the cold hits.
So there’s your guide to winter car checks. Now your car might be prepared for the winter, are you prepared for driving in it? Check out our winter driving guide.