The winter weather can take its toll on your car. Dirt and debris including mud, insects and road salt from the gritter lorries can cause real problems not just for the exterior of your car, but for some of the internal workings as well. In this post, we’ll provide you with some top tips on how to maintain and keep your car clean in these slightly chilly months!
- Keep your fluids topped up.
Keeping your fluids topped up is one the most basic elements of car maintenance, no matter what the time of year! Always ensure that your car has enough screenwash in its reserve, that the oil is at a suitable level and that there’s always enough fuel in the car if you need to travel! In addition to these elements, make sure that you have topped up on anti-freeze to stop your engine’s cooling system from freezing up when the temperature drops below zero!
- Ensure your lights are clean and working correctly.
Over the winter months, it takes longer to get light in the morning and daylight fades earlier in the evening. This means that you’ll likely need to use your headlights in order to see, and for other road users to see you. It’s important that your headlamps, tail lights and brake lights are all working correctly. This not only means ensuring that they are illuminating when needed, but also that your beam is operating at the correct angle. Headlights which are incorrectly angled can blind other road users and potentially cause accidents, and so it is vital to check this.
Your rear number plate should also be illuminated by one or two smaller bulbs to ensure that it can be seen by other road users and read by ANPR cameras. You can be stopped by the police and issued with a fixed penalty notice of £100 if any of your lights are not in working order, however you will most likely be issued with a ‘vehicle defect rectification notice’, which instructs you to fix the issue and provide evidence within 14 days.
Some cars have automatic headlights which are able to sense when the light is poor, however they don’t always work in foggy conditions, so if in any doubt, switch them on manually!
- Change your wiper blades.
Wiper blades which are dirty or have worn out can smear across your windscreen, which not only reduces visibility, but also causes an irritating distraction while you are driving. If this happens, then you need to change your wiper blades as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of establishments where you can purchase wiper blades from, including automotive parts stores such as Halfords or Euro Car Parts, or specialist retailers such as WiperBlades.co.uk.
- Check your tyres and tyre pressure.
Your tyres are of vital importance, particularly so in the winter months when the roads are slippery as a result of rain, snow or ice. By law, tyres must have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread depth around the entire circumference of the tyre. However, some manufacturers recommend that you consider changing your tyres when they fall below 3mm of tread depth.
Some people choose to fit ‘winter tyres’ to their car which are designed to give you more grip and traction in challenging winter conditions. They typically have deeper grooves and narrow cuts called sipes built into the tyre, and are usually composed of a slightly softer compound, which all aid with the dispersion of snow and water, allowing more rubber to come into contact with the road surface.
Of course, winter tyres do come at a cost, but the investment can pay out in terms of reducing your stopping distance in poor weather conditions, which may be the difference between being in a road traffic collision or not.
In terms of tyre pressure, in colder weather you should always ensure that your pressures are correct. In fact, many experts and tyre manufacturers recommend that you slightly over inflate your tyres in the winter by around 0.2 bar (approximately 3psi). This is because the air in the tyre will expand in warmer weather and contract in colder temperatures, which affects how the surface of the tyre connects with the asphalt surface. Under inflated tyres can lead to a number of problems, including increased braking distances, poor grip and increased fuel consumption.
- Check your brakes.
Just like tyres, your brakes are even more important in winter than they are in summer. Brakes which are worn can result in difficulty stopping, particularly in slippery conditions with ice or snow on the road.
If your brakes make a noise or feel different in any way they will need checking as soon as possible. When leaving home for your morning commute, always set off gently if it has been cold overnight, as your discs, callipers or handbrake may have frozen up.
- Buy a pressure washer and cleaning products.
Of course the best way to keep your car clean is to wash it on a regular basis…and buying a pressure washer will really help with this! There are many benefits to a pressure washer, such as being able to remove dirt and grime in hard to reach places without the need for hard scrubbing or getting on all fours. Naturally, some people prefer doing things the old fashioned way with a bucket and sponge, but a lot of the time this results in the car drying with streaks on the paintwork from dirty water.
If you combine your pressure washer with snow foam, you’re almost guaranteed to get all the grime and dirt off your car.
- Use wax.
Using car wax products such as Turtle Wax adds an additional layer of protection to your car’s paintwork, making it less likely to get scratched or chipped. Finish off your wash and dry with a wax and you’ll keep dirt, grime and road salt away from damaging your car!
So there you have it, our top tips on how to maintain and keep your car clean this winter. Hopefully, these will come in useful throughout the chilly winter months and you’ll be safe, be seen and be clean on the roads!