Checklist for Driving in the Winter
All year round, your car gets exposed to various weather conditions. In the UK. some summer days can be extremely hot while the winter can be unforgivingly cold. ❄️ As a car owner, you want to prolong the life of your vehicle by keeping it in good condition. This means taking care of it and making sure it’s well-maintained at all times but especially in winter. Have a checklist before you set out, in order to avoid any car troubles on the way to your destination. Here’s a checklist for driving in the winter to guide you!
When the weather is cold and damp, it can affect your car’s battery. If you have an old car and a battery that hasn’t been changed recently, then you might want to consider having it replaced before winter. You wouldn’t want your car to break down in the middle of nowhere because the battery has gone flat.
It’s best not to wait for your battery to die before getting it changed. If you’re already having trouble starting your vehicle, then that’s a sure sign that the battery won’t last for very long. Visit your local garage so that a professional can replace your old battery.
You may also do it on your own as long as you know the specific one you need for your car and that you are confident about your skills in removing and replacing car batteries. When in doubt, do take your car to a garage and leave the task to a specialist.
Why not check out our top car battery maintenance tips.
Winters are commonly wet, and the roads are muddy, which means road salt and dirt from the road can reach your windscreen and make it difficult for you to see your surroundings while driving. When using the wipers, grime can be smeared across your windscreen, making it worse to see clearly. Make that the screen wash has been refilled before you hit the road.
There are a number of screen washes available, from concentrates to ready-mix solutions. It’s important that you use a proper screen wash and not just water because water will freeze and will be absolutely useless in washing off the dirt from your windscreen in cold weather.
Antifreeze is essential in stopping the cooling system of the engine from freezing. It would be advantageous if you have an antifreeze tester so you can easily check if the antifreeze is still effective. Testers are readily available in most local car shops.
To use the antifreeze tester, simply unscrew the cap of the coolant reservoir and get a sample of antifreeze using the tester tube. You may then analyse the sample by referring to the tester’s scale. If it’s no longer effective in stopping the cooling system from freezing, then it’s time to replace the antifreeze.
Don’t forget to check all of your car lights to see if they’re functioning properly. Remember that during winter, the days are much shorter so you’re going to rely on your lights more to see clearly while driving.
Clean the lights thoroughly whenever you wash your car (any maybe you will also need to do this in between car washes) so that they will be visible to other road users. If some of the lights are no longer as bright as the rest, then it might be time to change them. And it's really important they are clean for night driving, otherwise you will have more difficulty seeing the road ahead and for others to see you!
This is a very inexpensive and easy task so make sure to do it before you drive your car. Your lights are important in keeping you safe. They also inform other road users if you’re turning, reversing, slowing down, or if you need to make an emergency stop.
Will you be driving frequently during winter? If so, then consider getting winter tyres so you’ll have an easier time driving on snow and ice. Winter tyres can be expensive but it’s much safer to use them compared to regular ones.
Even if you think you won’t be driving a lot in winter, it’s still a must that you check the tyre tread depth before you go. It’s illegal to have tyres with a tread depth below 1.6mm because it will make it extremely difficult to steer and brake, making it dangerous for yourself and other road users. And in the UK we suffer badly from potholes and the resulting damage they cause. So it's worth checking your tyre treads regularly.
Things to Have for Winter Driving
Getting stuck in winter, maybe in snow, is something you definitely want to avoid if at all possible. However, it’s still wise to prepare for the worst. Even if you think you’ve checked everything, it’s possible for the car to break down during extreme weather, or get stuck in heavy snow. Here are some of the tools and other things you should pack in your car for winter driving.
- Extra clothes to keep you warm
- Charged torch and extra batteries
- Wellington boots
- Tow ropes
- De-icer and scraper
- High-visibility vest
- Hazard warning triangle
- First aid kit
- Emergency mobile phone and charger
- Food and hot drinks in case you get stranded
Take time to do these checks before you drive during winter. Knowing that you’ve done all the necessary steps to keep your car in good condition during harsh weather will give you peace of mind as you’re driving. And it's not a bad idea to consider having an emergency breakdown kit with you, particularly in winter! ❄️
Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you start your journey. If you’re expecting heavy rain or snow, you might want to reschedule your trip. It’s always best to make sure you’ll have a safe journey. If you do have to make the trip, find the best routes and plan ahead.
If you drive an electric car you might be interested in our article on driving electric cars in winter.
Carmoola has lots of interesting blogs to help you with all things cars, car finance and useful information for when you are out and about driving - why not check out our complete guide on everything you need to know about driving in the UK? 👍🚘