Cars are exposed to all kinds of extreme weather conditions throughout the winter months. Rain, snow, ice and wind all affect the general condition of your vehicle – so it’s especially important to check that working components, such as the brakes, battery and headlights, are ready to face the season ahead. Make sure you thoroughly inspect your vehicle, inside and out, and take the necessary steps to ensure you’re all set for safe spring motoring.
1. TEST YOUR LIGHTS
Over the winter months, moisture and loose chippings can damage your lights, and leave your car unroadworthy.
- Check all indicators, backlights and headlights are in good working order
- While you’re switching on the lights, you’ll need someone else to check that they’re working
- Replace any bulbs that are not working
2. ASSESS FLUID LEVELS
Washer fluid, engine oil and coolant all need topping up every so often, your local workshop can help with this.
- Refill your windscreen washer fluid
- Use high quality washer fluid to prevent spray nozzle blockages
- Refill engine oil and coolant if needed
3. CHECK YOUR BRAKES
Months of stop-start driving and extreme conditions can take their toll on brakes. Your local workshop will be more than happy to check your brakes for you.
- Check the degree of wear on the brake pads
- Assess the condition of the brake disc
- Check brake alignment, brake fluid level and the condition of seals and rubber parts
- Locate the brake fluid reservoir, check the level and top up if necessary
4. SWAP BACK TO SUMMER TYRES
When changing from winter to summer tyres, it’s important to check your tread depth. Legally, it should not be less than 1.6mm, but experts advise a minimum rest tread depth of 3mm.
- When changing tyres, be sure to check your tread depth and tyre pressure
- Retighten wheel bolts after the tyre change, and every 50-100km thereafter
- Store your winter tyres in a cool, dark and dry place
5. REPLACE YOUR WIPER BLADES
Wiper blades are often damaged by winter frost and ice. This can increase your risk of a road accident through poor vision.
- Check your wiper blades and replace them annually – or more if you cover high mileage
- Signs of damage include: screeching, juddering and leaving unwashed margins
- Consult a professional to find the best new wiper blades for your car
6. CHECK YOUR BATTERY
In low winter temperatures, your battery has to work harder – which can affect its output and performance.
- Check battery performance, as well as the contact and acid level
- Look out for signs of rust damage
7. INSPECT YOUR EXHAUST
Winter driving conditions can lead to dangerous cracks developing in your exhaust system.
- Carry out a visual check of your exhaust, looking for any cracks or holes
- If identified, the affected section of the exhaust will need to be replaced
- For peace of mind, ask for professional advice
8. SPRING CLEAN INSIDE YOUR CAR
Time to start afresh – dirt and bacteria will build up inside your car over time.
- Clean your windows, inside and out
- Wash the seats and mats to remove harmful bacteria
- Use appropriate anti-bacterial care products to clean the gear stick
9. WASH YOUR CAR
Winter dirt contains salt and grit, which can damage your vehicle over time.
- Wash the bulk of the dirt off with water to avoid scratching the paintwork
- Get your car washed by a professional to safely remove dirt from the underbody
- Remember to dry your vehicle after washing to prevent water spots
- Apply polish to the paintwork and treat plastic components with an appropriate care product
10. TAKE CARE OF YOUR PAINTWORK
Paintwork may become rusted and scratched after exposure to winter salt and grit.
- Check all paintwork carefully after washing, especially around the wheel arches
- Treat small scratches with polish, and use a touch-up brush for bigger scratches