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Preparing Your Car for Winter

Preparing Your Car for Winter

No one likes winter driving. Whether you’re constantly having to dip your full beam, travelling at a snail’s pace due to fear of ice, or genuinely worried your hands might fuse with the steering wheel if they get any colder, it’s safe to say that we’d prefer to be doing just about anything else. But winter driving isn’t just frustrating, it can be dangerous too.

That’s why, this month, 1st Call Windscreens have put together a list of the 10 most important winter car checks, as well as all of the things you need in an emergency winter car kit, so you can stay safe out on the roads, secure in the knowledge that you’re fully prepared.

Preparing your car for winter infographic

Winter car maintenance checklist

Get a winter service

First things first – get your car in for a service. Cold weather can cause a lot of problems for our vehicles, but most of them can be prevented if we get our vehicles serviced in good time.

Check your battery

Next in our list of winter car checks is to check your car’s battery – during winter your car’s battery is under double the strain. Firstly, the cold weather can severely limit battery life. Secondly, the increased usage of the lights, heater, and blower means that your battery is working overtime.

Check your mirrors

Side mirrors can easily become frozen in winter, so unless you have heated mirrors, we recommend covering them if you’re going to leave them outside. Try covering them with a plastic bag and fastening them with elastic bands.

Check your brakes

Winter is when you need your brakes to perform, so make sure to check your brake pads as soon as possible. Notice any squealing? If the noise is consistent, this could be an indication that they need replacing.

Check your engine oil

No matter what season it is, it’s always a good idea to check your engine oil. Pull the dipstick out of its housing and then check the level at the bottom. If it’s looking a little too close to the bottom mark, then it’s time to add a little more!

Top up engine coolant

Make sure that your engine coolant is topped up with antifreeze. The mix should be about 50/50. Be sure not to top it up with water too much over the winter, you’ll only end up with frozen coolant and a nasty repair bill.

Engine belts and hose

Engines are resilient, but the winter months can really test that. To make sure that your engine is ready for winter, give the belts and hoses a once over. Look for signs of wear on the belts, and you can just give the hoses a squeeze to see if they’ve hardened.

Check your tyres in winter

When it comes to handling and traction, you need all the help you can get in the winter, so make sure that your tyres are in good shape. The main two checks: pressure and tread depth. We recommend at least 3mm in the tread depth department.

Clean your lights

You’re going to be using your lights a lot more in the winter, so it pays to make sure they will shine properly. Focus on your headlamps, but don’t neglect your indicators and rear reflectors. This is also a good time to check that your main beam is working properly.

Inspect your windscreen and wipers

Our favourite tip. Give your windscreen a thorough clean inside and out, and be sure to top up your windscreen washer fluid with antifreeze. If you notice any chips or cracks in your windscreen, give 1st Call Windscreens a call!

Once done, you can run a finger down your wiper blades to check for any rips or tears. If you need to replace your wipers, take a look at our guide.

Check your breakdown cover

Breakdown cover is even more important in winter, so give yourself some peace of mind and check your policy.

Check the forecast

The biggest cause of accidents and collisions in winter: icy roads. The best way to avoid these scenarios is to not get in your vehicle at all, or at least take the safest route. So, be sure to check the weather forecast on your phone before you leave.

Check your fuel gauge

Unknown to many, cold weather can cause you to burn through fuel much quicker than you would in the summer. With that in mind, always leave more fuel in your tank than you think you’ll need.

Carry a winter driving emergency kit

For everything else that winter can throw at you, carry a survival kit.

With all the winter tools you need at the ready, you are ready for a midnight breakdown in the middle of nowhere, or just a tailback on the way home from work. Ensuring you have a survival kit in your car is one of the most important winter car checks, and not one to be missed.

Not sure what you should be putting in your survival kit? Don’t worry, we have a list of the most important items right here for you.

Winter car kit item 1: An ice scraper

The ice scraper is the workhorse of your survival kit; you’ll probably be using it everyday if the mercury drops particularly low. They’re also extremely cheap and available at most petrol stations, so there’s no excuse not to add one to your kit.

Winter car kit item 2: Hi-vis jackets

If you break down or have an accident in the dark and need to leave your car, you have to make sure that oncoming traffic can see you. That’s where a hi-vis jacket comes in. We suggest packing one for each family member.

Winter car kit item 3: A torch

If a warning light pops up on the dashboard and you want to take a look under the bonnet for peace of mind, you’re going to need a good torch. While most smartphones have excellent little torches, they can really drain your battery, and you could well need to call someone in an emergency.

Winter car kit item 4: Snacks

Not that we need much of an excuse to keep snacks in our vehicles, but it could prove useful if you break down or end up stuck in traffic. Keeping warm is energy-sapping business, after all.

This moves us neatly on to our next point.

Winter car kit item 5: Blankets

Yes, yes, we know – all vehicles have heaters these days, but leaving them on for extended periods is a surefire way to run your battery down – something which you definitely don’t want on a dark winter’s night. So be smart, conserve petrol and pack some warm blankets in your boot.

Winter car kit item 6: First aid kit

This is something that you hope you’ll never have to use, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You can often pick one up for as little as five pounds too, so there’s really no excuse.

If there’s any extra medication that you require, you can always store that in your first aid kit.

Winter car kit item 7: Sunglasses

When you think of winter, your mind won’t immediately spring to sunglasses, but you’ll definitely want to pack a pair in your survival kit. Why? During the winter the sun is much lower in the sky, causing the sun’s rays to hit environmental objects at odd angles. This, in turn, can create a lot of glare. To combat this, pack a pair of sunglasses with polarised lenses, you won’t regret it.

Winter car kit item 8: Emergency triangle

If you break down in the winter – which, let’s face it, isn’t all that unlikely – you’re going to need to signal this to other drivers, particularly in the dark. An emergency triangle can be placed on the road behind your vehicle for this exact purpose.

Winter car kit item 9: Foldable shovel

Whether it’s snow or mud, you never know when your car might get stuck, so it’s always best to have a means of digging your way out! Foldable shovels are the best because they don’t take up too much room.

Winter car kit item 10: In-car phone charger

If you break down or get lost while out on the road, you’re going to need to phone for help, and you can’t do that without any battery. So make sure that you pack a spare charger in your kit!

Winter car kit item 11: Empty fuel can

If you pack an empty fuel can in your survival kit, this means that you can always carry around some extra fuel with you when you fill up. While we don’t recommend hoarding fuel during these times, an extra fuel can could really help you out in a bad spot.

Winter car kit item 12: Bottles of water

The human body can survive without food for nearly two months, but only three days without water. This gives you a bit of an idea of just how important it is to keep up with fluids, so don’t forget to pack a few bottles in your survival kit!

Winter car kit item 13: Tow rope

Whether you end up needing a tow or you’re the one doing the towing, a tow rope could well come in handy in winter. Tow ropes are available up to 17.5 tonnes in strength, but you will be fine with something between 2 to 4 tonnes.

If your windscreen has become damaged this winter, we can help. Serving customers throughout Sittingbourne, Maidstone and the wider Kent area, 1st Call Windscreens are a leading windscreen repair and replacement company. Whether you have a small chip in your windscreen or it’s totally shattered, our experienced technicians will be able to get your vehicle roadworthy in no time. For more information, give us a call today.

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Excellent service, many thanks to Grant & Jack and all at 1st Call Windscreens they charged £400.00 + VAT to replace the windscreen on my BMW 5 Series including camera calibration. Auto Wind...

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5 star plus Excellent service from start to finish Grant was exceptionally helpful after our Insurance Co who deal with Autoglass cancelled both our scheduled appointments as they could not get a sc...

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I called 1st Call Windscreens after recommendation from the main Vauxhall dealer when my new car’s windscreen needed replacing. Obviously with the car only being a month old, it was really impor...

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Watch 1st Call Windscreens video, featuring our experts in windscreen repair & replacement in Sittingbourne, Maidstone & Gillingham in Kent.

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