As the nights are drawing in and temperatures are starting to drop, we thought we would bring you some of our top recommendations for simple car checks worth doing before the bad weather really hits!
Tyre condition and pressure
The minimum legal requirement for tyre tread is 1.6mm across the central three-quarter part of its surface. However, for driving in the autumn and winter months, when roads are wet and slippy, we follow the Motor Industry Research Association advice and recommend at least 3mm of tread. You could also consider putting winter tyres on your car. The rubber in winter tyres is designed to give you a much better grip on the road and the ability to stop in a shorter distance, increasing your safety on the road. Regularly checking and adjusting your tyre pressure essential to help preserve the life of your tyres and also for safety reasons. Tyres that are under inflated can overheat; and over inflated tyres can lead to poor vehicle handling on the road. In general, air escapes tyres at a rate of up to two pounds every month. More air is usually lost during warm weather, so it is essential to check pressure after the summer months.
Headlamps, brake lights and indicators
Headlight function is especially important in the dark winter months, when visibility is often poor. Enlist in the help of a friend to check all your headlamps, brake lights and indicator bulbs are all working as well as they should be!
It is important to regularly check the level of engine oil in your car. This helps keep all parts of the engine well lubricated and allows metal to press against metal without damage. Without adequate engine oil the metal-on-metal friction would create so much heat that the surfaces would weld themselves together and the engine would seizes. In colder temperatures engine and transmission friction increases meaning your car uses more engine oil.
With grip levels often lower in autumn due to rainy roads and, in some cases, a blanket of slippery leaves, ensuring your vehicle’s braking performance is as strong as possible is a good way to reduce your crash risk. Get your brakes checked by a qualified mechanic for added peace of mind.
As the weather gets worse, the chances are you’ll be driving in the rain more frequently. Visibility is a number one priority, so ensure you can see clearly out of your windscreen – it sounds simple but you’d be amazed at the number of motorists who struggle on with cracked glass and worn wiper blades. If when your windscreen wipers are working they leave a streaky mess over the windshield and ‘bounce’ over the glass, they’ve gone hard and are now useless. In a down pour or on a motorway full of spray – like when passing a truck, for example – they won’t effectively wipe the water away and could almost leave you driving blind. Make sure you get a new set that wipe smoothly and clean the screen effectively.
Follow the directions on the screen wash bottle, some are concentrated and some are ready mixed. Either way, make sure you check your screen wash level and top up where necessary. Screen wash helps to keep washer jets unclogged and the windscreen clear.
Anti-freeze helps to keep engine coolant from freezing when temperatures drops. As water expands when it freezes, without antifreeze, plummeting temperatures could lead to severe damage in your engine. Keeping your anti-freeze well topped up will help your engine coolant in liquid form and working more effectively.
Many people associate Air Conditioning with the warmer summer months, but it’s not just the exterior of the glass that can cause visibility problems in winter – make sure your car isn’t steaming up inside as this can restrict your view all around. Consider re-gassing your vehicle’s air conditioning if it has it and this is a problem. This will help keep the glass clear and your vision crystal, improving safety as a result.
Don’t forget – T W White and Sons customers can bring their vehicle in for a free winter health check, for more details call 0844 539 5228