As soon as cold weather comes around, you instinctively swap your wardrobe for warm coats, scarves and beanies. Preparing your car for winter weather should be no different. Now is the time to:
1. Fit your car with winter tires
2. Check the condition of your winter tires
3. Check your fluids
4. Check your battery
5. Check your lights
6. Check your wiper blades
7. Prepare a winter car kit
In addition to switching to winter tires, you should also prepare your car for snow, ice and freezing temperatures. A winter car kit will help you get through the season safely and comfortably.
To help you winterize your vehicle, follow our checklist of seasonal car care tips. Your car will be ready for winter driving in no time.
Winter tires are one of the first things that spring to mind when preparing your car for winter – for good reason. They provide driving comfort and safety in the colder months of the year and most regions around Europe even make winter tires a mandatory requirement at particular times. It’s common practice to fit your winter tires around October, but you can find out where and when you have to swap your tires by law here.
Once the thermometer drops, the rubber on summer tires hardens and their grip is reduced. With winter tires, you’re prepared for harsh winter conditions such as freezing temperatures and icy roads. Learn more about the differences between winter and summer tires here. Depending on where you live, find out whether all-season tires may be an alternative.
When having your winter tires fitted, make sure they’re in good condition – including the spare! To do this, check the tire tread, ensure the tire pressure is correct, and look for any unusual bulges, wear, or general damage. If you do spot anything, mention it to your tire expert. However, if a professional is fitting your winter tires for you, they’ll notice these things and recommend a repair or new tires.
When checking your vehicle's fluids, park your car on a flat level surface and ensure the engine is cold. Next, check the following fluids and be sure to use the correct ratio and don't exceed the maximum level line:
If your car is taking longer to start than usual or if your car lights are dim, these may be signs that it’s time for a new battery. If you don’t have it checked, the cold weather could be its (and your) downfall. Visit your mechanic, who will advise you on whether you need a new battery or repairs.
Winter driving means encountering rain, sleet and snow in longer periods of darkness. Therefore, you’re going to be dependent on your lights quite often. You’ll also be in greater danger if they aren’t working. Before the harshness of winter arrives, ensure your headlights, fog lights, indicators, reversing lights and brake lights are all working. Once you know they’re in good condition, give them a thorough clean with window wash or for particular stubborn stains, rub in some toothpaste, let it rest a couple of minutes and wipe away.
There’s nothing worse than the screeching sounds of old or broken wiper blades during a heavy downpour. If your wipers are failing to clear your windshield effectively, they need replacing. It’s easy to replace your wipers, as long as you make sure to purchase the correct blades. If in doubt, ask a garage assistant or speak to your local car dealer.
You may not need everything in this emergency kit checklist, but you'll be glad of the emergency items if you do find yourself stranded in the thick of winter: