Common Winter Car Issues to Keep an Eye On

By: Lisa Harper

Winter driving can present a number of issues for your car, as the cold weather can test the limits of its mechanical abilities. Breakdowns are more common and can be more dangerous during the winter months. Therefore it’s important to be aware of some common winter car issues you may face so that you can be prepared.

Low Tyre Pressure

Tyre pressures can drop in colder weather. This is because at cooler temperatures air becomes denser which results in a drop in pressure. Therefore if you're checking and setting your tyre pressure in a warm workshop you should add around 0.2 bar (3psi) to the manufacturer's recommended pressure rating. 

It is important to keep your tyres correctly inflated to ensure that they work effectively, especially in winter when road conditions are more challenging to drive on. Wet, icy or snowy conditions increase stopping distances and can make it harder to control your vehicle; so there really is no better time to check the condition of your tyres.

Battery

The cold weather can inhibit the chemical reaction that makes a battery work and as a result, the battery will lack power. On top of this in cool conditions, oil isn’t as fluid as it is in summer, so the engine can be harder to start. Essentially this means not only do you potentially have less power from the battery you also need more power to start the engine. So it’s no wonder that in winter more people have problems with their car battery.

In addition, in winter months we often use more electric power through the heater, headlights and windscreen wipers. All of these features zap power from the car's battery meaning it gets far more use in winter than it does in spring or summer, so it is more likely to wear out. 

Therefore going into winter it is a good idea to get your battery and electrical systems thoroughly checked. Why not organise a winter car check? I mean you don’t want to find yourself stranded when it’s freezing outside. 

Antifreeze

If you don’t have sufficient antifreeze or it has been mixed in the wrong ratio it can cause a host of problems in your car. Antifreeze plays an important role in the normal functioning of your engine. It prevents the engine cooling system from freezing up, raises the boiling point of engine coolant, protects your engine from corrosion, aids heat transfer, and prevents scale from building up internally. If your antifreeze is insufficient or incorrectly mixed it can result in costly repairs being required.

It is important to check your levels to ensure you have sufficient levels. In addition, you need to make sure you’re topping up with the right ratio of product as the wrong balance can alter the freezing point and prevent the antifreeze working correctly. For temperatures below -35°C the recommended ratio is 50% antifreeze to 50% water. However, to reach temperatures as low as -64°C the ideal ratio is 70% antifreeze to 30% water. 

We offer a full Antifreeze change or top-up so there really is no excuse for not getting your levels checked.

Windscreens

A small dint or crack in your windscreen can in extremely wintry conditions turn into a major crack. This can result in you needing to purchase or claim on your insurance for a whole new windscreen.

If you are aware of any small cracks or chips in your windscreen it is worth getting them fixed before the cold weather really sets in.

Windscreen Wiper Blade

You are more likely to use your windscreen wipers in winter due to the increased risk of rain or snow. If your wiper blades are in poor condition you may find that they smear the grime rather than cleaning it from your car. Plus damaged wipers can actually scratch your glass which can increase glare and result in you needing a new windscreen.

Replacing your cars windscreen wipers is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve the safety of your vehicle. 

Windscreen Washer

In winter it is even more important to make sure your windscreen washer stays topped-up. In snowy conditions, you can go through a vast amount of windscreen washer fluid to keep your windscreen clean and clear. 

It is a good idea to keep a spare mix of windscreen washer in your boot just in case you do run out while out and about. It’s also advisable to invest in a good quality windscreen wash that will withstand low temperatures, so it doesn’t freeze. 

Tip: Before you set off in wintry conditions it’s a good idea to check whether the washer jets have frozen. If they have aim the heating at the windscreen and wait until they thawed out to set off.  

Why not let us take the hassle out of getting your car all ready for winter by booking in for a full winter health check? 

Please note we record all our calls to ensure that we give you the service you deserve.

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