Get your car ready for winter

Whether we like it or not, the long hot summer is behind us and we need to prepare for winter. We’ve already had some serious storms this year and the Beast from the East was a chilling reminder of how bleak winter can be. It’s time to get your vehicle ready for any upcoming icy blasts. Always stay on top of your vehicle’s maintenance and servicing, including your Gloucester MOT.

Here are some important tips to follow to prevent your car being one of the statistics from car breakdown services:

A really helpful acronym to use to help you remember the crucial things to check on your car is FORCES:

It stands for fuel, oil, rubber, coolant, electrics and screen wash.

  1. Fuel

Always check you have enough fuel before you head out. This might sound so obvious as to be ridiculous, but a surprising number of people run out of fuel in very low temperatures and become stranded.

  1. Oil

When cars are checked by breakdown services, they often find around a third are dangerously low on oil. Not topping up your oil can lead to breakdown or even serious engine damage. Always make sure your oil level is between the minimum and maximum markers with your dipstick.

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  1. Rubber

This refers to the condition of your tyres and windscreen wipers. Check them for damage, wear and tear, splits and tread depth. A minimum depth of 1.6mm is normally required but for winter, 3mm is recommended for additional grip. Check the tyre pressure too.

Your wiper blades must be effective at clearing your screen, especially during inclement weather. If your windscreen is frozen, use some de-icer or warm water to free them before turning them on or you could blow a fuse or break the mechanics.

  1. Coolant

Coolant levels are important to avoid an engine freezing over or overheating. It’s a good idea to check levels before setting off on a long journey.

  1. Electrics

Lights are crucial in poor weather to make sure you can see where you’re going but also to make you visible to other drivers. Examine your lights, making sure they are clean and battery terminals are tight and clear of grime.

If you notice your car struggling to turn over or your battery is over 4 years old, you should have it checked by a garage. Hundreds of thousands of breakdown call-outs each year are battery related and icy conditions can play havoc with older batteries.

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  1. Screen wash

Always use a good quality screen wash and check regularly throughout the winter to keep it topped up. It needs to be effective to at least -15 degrees. During winter, the roads are dirtier, grittier and muckier, all of which will be landing on your windscreen. Many breakdown services report drivers whose screen wash has completely frozen so it’s important to use a top-quality additive.