Ultimate Winter Protection Guide

By CarMoney December 8, 2020
Ultimate Winter Protection Guide

Winter can be a nasty time for road users with more than just the issue of slippery roads, as the winter months bring cold snaps that can freeze and break door seals, while salt on the roads can get everywhere and damage paintwork. The best way to protect your car is to prepare it before the cold weather comes and checking the forecast well in advance. Here is a couple of tips to follow to help you during the colder months:

Wax your car

Your car’s paintwork can sometimes be the biggest sufferer during the colder months, with grit and salt from the road and lorries constantly bombarding the exterior. Applying a good quality wax before the gritting starts is the best way of protecting the paintwork and keep your car looking good.

Clean your tyres regularly

As you drive, grit, mud, and everything else you find on a wintery road will get stuck in the tread of your tyres. It is important to clean or at least rinse your tyres after every couple of drives. This will prevent all that gunk getting flung into the underside of the car or damaging the paint around the wheel arches.

Avoid puddles and potholes

I am sure you will do this anyway, but it’s more important this time of year to avoid them. Potholes and puddles quite often are filled with the grit and mud from the road and could damage your car if you drive through them.

Wash your car regularly

It may seem frustrating that the cleanness of your car only lasts a day at best during winter, but it is important to get the dirt off, especially around the wheel arches and bumpers. Any kind of build-up could cause problems that could be expensive. Not ideal at this time of year!

Don’t drive during gritting times

If bad weather is predicted you can guarantee the salt and grit lorries will be out in force the night before, so try to avoid driving during these times otherwise you will be exposing your car to fresh salt unduly. Your local authority might even show you when and where they are gritting e.g. this is the page which covers the CarMoney HQ https://trafficscotland.org/wintergritterinfo/ 

Protect your car from the elements

Overnight temperatures can really plummet, and if it has been a wet day, the water inside doors and seals can freeze and cause serious issues. The best way to stop this is, of course, a garage. But not everyone has that option, in which case we suggest using a car cover as it will keep water out and the car won’t be frozen shut!

If you follow these tips during winter, your car should be fine. But the real preparation should be done well before the wintery weather hits. Your car should be in top condition as these will be the most testing times for the mechanics and electrics of your car. Here is a couple of must-dos before winter sets in:

Get your vehicle serviced

It is a lot more comforting going into the cold with a car that you know is safe and working. The cold can cause a lot of issues, but up to half of them can be prevented by regular servicing and checks. The last thing you want is a part that is already damaged failing in the cold!

Winter tyres

Maybe a little obvious, but still important! A good set of winter tyres can make all the difference, especially if you live slightly out of town where the roads don’t get salted as often. Air pressure is also very important around winter, as underinflation or overinflation can cause serious issues. The tyres are like the shoes of a car, now would you go walking in the snow in your summer flip flops? Probably not!

Here’s a checklist to help know if your tyres need looked at:

  1. If you are coming up to winter and your tread depth is 2mm or lower, we would suggest maybe having them changed to save any risks.
  2. The legal limit for cars & vans under 3.5 tons is 1.6mm and 1mm for motorbikes over 50cc.
  3. If you don’t have a depth gauge, insert a 20p coin at 3 points across around the circumference. If you can see the border, have a specialist have a look. 
  4. Check all tyres are at the recommended level of pressure. (Found in handbook/fuel filler cap)
  5. Check for bumps, cracks and cuts around all 4 tyres at least once a week. 

Check the battery

The battery is the most affected by the cold, as the cold reduces the output and increased use of lights and heating put a lot of strain on it and can sometimes not start if it is too cold, but you can always try a jump start. Batteries are effective for about 5 years on average, so taking that into account, make sure you have a reliable battery before it gets cold!

Top up engine coolant with antifreeze

Always make sure the coolant is 50/50 water and antifreeze. Over time, it will become more diluted, so make sure during winter you top up the antifreeze! DON’T add a lot more water, as this will dilute it more and it could freeze if it gets very cold.

Prepare for long journeys

Before you set off anywhere at this time of year, it is important to always check the forecast and travel news, especially for longer journeys. Allow more time as well to avoid rushing and always clear ALL your windows before setting off.

Carry a winter breakdown kit

A lot of you will read this and probably think its overkill, but this is really important! Thousands get stranded in their cars every year and don’t have the correct equipment, so don’t be one of them! Your winter breakdown kit should include things like shovel, torch, blanket, hi-visibility vest, de-icer, scraper, food & drink, screen wash and snow grips in case you have to walk. And of course, most importantly, a fully charged phone!

Don’t let winter take you by surprise. Driving should be enjoyable and safe all throughout the year and, if you follow these steps, you can be as safe as you can be.

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