With Christmas fast approaching, you need to protect your bank balance. The last thing you want is to be sat in a freezing cold lay-by in the middle of nowhere wondering how you’re going to cover the cost of car repairs.
While we can’t guarantee your car won’t break down, there are practical steps you can take to minimise risk. Here are three ways you can avoid a cold, costly winter breakdown:
1. Test Your Battery
Car battery death is one of the most common causes of a breakdown in the winter months. Why? Because the damage done to the battery doesn’t always show until the winter months - car oil thickens in the cold, and battery cranking power reduces.
Fortunately, you can solve this problem before it happens. Take your car to your local garage or an approved dealer and they’ll usually test your battery for free (however, you’ll have to pay for a new battery).
If you’ve got the equipment, you could use a multimeter or a hydrometer to check everything’s working. Also, carry some jump leads in your car - they might get you to the nearest garage if you do breakdown.
2. Get Some Quality Antifreeze
We know what you’re thinking, how will antifreeze stop me from breaking down? It’s common for car owners to use water or a summer window cleaning solution in the warmer months, or top antifreeze up with water.
However, if you haven’t topped it up with a 50/50 antifreeze mixture you could be making an expensive mistake. Your engine could overheat and your head gasket could blow.
You’d be annoyed at yourself if you broke down because of this mistake, so get some antifreeze and top your car up. It’s cheap to buy, but you can get higher quality products.
3. Check Your Tyre Tread Depth
Steering, braking, stopping and moving - your tyres help with all of these manoeuvres. And in the winter months, all of the above manoeuvres are more difficult to execute due to ice and sludge on the roads. Add rain and wind into the mix and you’ve got a potent combination.
If your tyres don’t have the legal amount of tread, you could be prosecuted. However, you could also cause an accident or become immobile because the tread isn’t thick enough to grip the road.
You can solve the problem of low tread by arranging a free tyre check (again, you’ll have to pay for the tyres if they aren’t suitable).
In the event of a breakdown:
- Ensure you have plenty of warm clothing
- Carry a winter breakdown kit
- Check your breakdown cover
- Get a winter service check
Are You Ready for Winter?
If you’ve covered all of the above, you’ll be safe to drive your car in the winter. But remember, as well as completing the above checks, you need to drive safely and sensibly to minimise the risk of a breakdown.
For more winter car tips, read the following articles: