As many people have found out to their cost, cars break down more often in the winter. Of course with breakdown cover, you are safe in the knowledge that if you do break down, someone will be on their way to assist you. However, this is not the definitive answer and we have all seen the news reports of people being stranded in their car in sub-zero conditions. There are things that you can do before the onset of winter to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown. Here our our top tips.
According to the AA, one of the major causes of breakdowns is flat battery. Having your battery checked is not a major issue and will cost you about 5 pounds. However, with a sharp eye it is possible to do some visual checks.These are warning signs to pay attention to:
- Frayed or broken cables
- Corroded connectors
- Dirt or water on the battery
- Cracks in the battery casing
Batteries in cars that are driven less frequently or where the car is stopped and started often on short journeys, are likely to have a shorter life span. If your car starts to struggle to turn over when the weather gets colder and you have carried out your visual checks and corrected any problems, the likelihood is that you need to replace the battery before you get stranded.
A coolant / anti-freeze fluid is something that is added into your car water system to stabilise it during extreme temperatures. If this drops below the recommended level then you could be heading for trouble. You can buy an antifreeze tester from any auto store and many service stations offer free testing.
This is very important and especially so during winter conditions. Visually inspect your tyres for wear around the edges and also for dread depth. Check for splitting or damage on the tyre wall and very importantly, check your pressure and make sure it is at the recommended level.
Having enough oil in your car helps to keep your engine in the best condition, especially in colder temperatures. Use the dipstick to check oil levels when the car engine has been warmed up through running, and the car is parked on level ground. The level should be between the upper and lower level markings but preferably closer to the upper level. If the level is near the lower limit it should take about 1 litre of oil to bring it up to the upper level.
In preparation a long journey you should take a warm blanket, waterproof clothing and a fully charging a mobile phone and perhaps a flask of hot drink with you.
These are all things you can do at little or no expense to lessen the chance of breaking down in the winter. There is no substitute for keeping your car regularly serviced and maintained, but opening up that car bonnet for a few checks can help lessen the odds. You should always consider breakdown cover for that extra peace of mind that knowing that assistance will be on the way should you break down will give.