Winter or summer, rain or shine, experiencing a breakdown is every motorist’s worst nightmare. If you navigate the country for work and drive for business, the consequences can add up to more than just an hour of rain-soaked inconvenience.
While it’s always best to take out breakdown cover from a trusted provider like RAC, prevention is usually simpler than cure. Here’s how to avoid a frosty breakdown as the cold weather sets in.
Stock up on the best cold-weather car essentials
When the temperature drops, your vehicle needs a little extra care to stay in peak condition. Ice is a leading cause of car damage in the winter, which is why engine antifreeze and coolants are vital at this time of year. These important liquids shield your valuable assets from the risk of damage and breakdown, but they are too often overlooked by busy motorists.
There’s a science to choosing the right antifreeze for your vehicle type. Check with your car’s manufacturer to see what antifreeze is recommended, or make an appointment at your garage to check. It’s also important to use antifreeze safely and to avoid overloading your engine. Your vehicle’s cooling system capacity determines the optimal amount of antifreeze.
Get your battery checked
If you experience regular problems when starting your car or van, book in at a garage to have your battery checked before icy weather strikes.
In winter, low temperatures reduce your battery’s output, while the pressure of lights and heaters throw additional strain into the mix. For this reason, battery problems are a leading cause of winter breakdowns.
Keep your battery in optimal health by remembering to switch off car lights and heaters every time you park up. Driving your car helps to charge the battery, so take any unused fleet vehicles out for a regular spin. It’s always a good idea to keep a pair of jump starter leads in every vehicle in case of battery problems when your fleet is on the road.
Get a pre-winter service
Ensuring your car stays in peak condition means staying on top of the everyday maintenance tasks – like checking your vehicle’s oil levels. This simple action will help you to avoid the costlier breakdowns since low oil levels can put a serious strain on an already cold-strained engine.
Booking in for a regular service makes it harder to forget this all-important step so you can drive into winter with confidence.
During a service, all fluid levels are checked, as well as brakes. These are jobs most people can’t do at home, but they’re especially important in winter. Icy or rain-soaked motorways mean sharp brakes and efficient wipers are vital.
Keep an eye on your wheels
Caring for your tyres is often associated with road safety rather than breakdown prevention. Flat tyres are a leading cause of breakdowns, however – so caring for your tread can help you to avoid inconvenience.
If your tyres are in bad condition, get them replaced before the pressures of winter set in. You can also help tyres to last longer by avoiding the curb and paying attention to road hazards such as potholes. Tread carefully, and a pair of fresh tyres could stay efficient for years to come.
Keep your vehicle dry
Ice is a leading cause of winter car damage – and this includes areas your antifreeze won’t reach. Though it’s important to clean your car regularly in winter, avoid spraying water close to your brake system or exhaust pipes.
It’s also useful to keep your car’s interior as dry as possible during the winter. This means repairing window cracks and disposing of the wet laundry you’ve been storing on the back seat. Condensation can freeze, causing window and door damage that could delay your most important journeys.
Before you embark on a long journey in cold weather, take some time to check the weather forecast and check your vehicle, paying attention to any warning signs before setting off. Always pack some basic supplies like a blanket, extra de-icer and a mobile phone.
Take preventative measures and be prepared to minimise the risk of roadside disruption this winter.