How can I avoid a car breakdown this winter?

Winter weather can really have an effect on your car, with colder temperatures often “shocking” vehicle components. Features like batteries, wipers, and tires can take a hit during the darkest months, which is why checking them in advance is so vital.

Fortunately, the road safety and breakdown organization GEM Motoring Assist has released some basic tips on what you can check on your vehicle before winter arrives.

Get your battery checked


Cold weather can put a strain on an older battery, which would make it less able to start a car. GEM states that a number of winter emergency calls it participates in also refer to dead batteries.

So, if your engine seems to be spinning slower than usual, it is best to have it checked by a professional. It could mean that the battery needs to be replaced.

Make sure your car has the right amount of antifreeze

Engine stroke

Coolant is essential for maintaining engine temperature

As you can imagine, antifreeze is quite important when temperatures drop. It is added to the water in the engine cooling system to prevent it from freezing and damaging the system.

GEM recommends contacting a local dealer or mechanic to make sure the levels are topped up correctly.

Check your lights

Being visible is especially important in the winter.  (Vauxhall)

Being visible is especially important in the winter. (Vauxhall)

Your lights are so important during the winter and the darkest days it brings. Not only are they vital in lighting the way ahead, but they are also vital in making sure you are visible to other road users.

So make sure they all work as they should and clean them regularly to keep them away from dirt.

Make sure your tires have plenty of tread

Tire pressure check

It is essential that the tires of a car are inflated to the correct level (Goodyear)

GEM says you should check the tread depth and pressures weekly during the winter. Proper tire maintenance will ensure that your car’s safety systems are working as effectively as possible, while also helping to provide the best possible fuel economy.

GEM recommends a minimum tread depth of 3mm – beyond the legal limit of 1.6mm – as this will help disperse more water and reduce the possibility of skidding.

Replace the wipers if necessary

A heavy downpour can see your windshield wipers become a key component of your car. That’s why checking them, both front and back, is so important. Make sure they don’t get dirty when in use, and if they are, it’s a good idea to replace them.

Make sure you also have plenty of screen cleaner and top up if necessary. Remember, wipers cannot remove ice, so if your windshield is frozen avoid using them to avoid damage.

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