Advice On Protecting Your Car In Cold Weather

Road traffic accidents can be more likely to occur during the winter months due to factors such as wet and icy roads, strong winds and reduced visibility from rain or snow. Cars are also more likely to break down, as car parts have to work harder to deal with the cold conditions.
While we have a general idea of when winter weather sets in, the great British climate means it can creep up on you at a moment’s notice – and this is especially true with more frequent occurrences of flash floods and storms over the past few years.
The Highways Agency suggests that you put your car in for a full service before the winter months, just to make sure that everything is up to legal and safe standards. Many garages offer winter inspection packages so shop around for deals. Qualified car mechanics can check things like cooling systems, brakes and fluid level, disc and drum, shock absorbers, steering condition and other vitals.
But you can also help by maintaining their good work – follow the tips below to help prepare your car in advance:
In wet or icy conditions you need better tread on your tyres. Ensure that they are inflated to your manufacturer’s recommended pressure and that you have at least 3mm of tread depth.
Most batteries last for around 2-4 years but don’t leave it to chance. Check that yours is fully charged and replace it if you are in any doubt.
Check and replace the anti-freeze in the radiator. The last thing you want in winter is your radiator to break down!
Windscreen wipers
With regular use, windscreen wipers can wear down so make sure you check the blades regularly. If they look at all worn replace them so that they’ll last for the duration of the cold and rainy spell. Also include winter additive in the windscreen wiper water bottles.
Windows and mirrors
Lower light levels in winter can significantly reduce visibility. Don’t make matters worse by allowing smears to build up, especially on the windscreen. Also clean off any snow and ice and make sure windows are de-misted before you set off.
As well as keeping lights clear from snow, ice and a build-up of spray make sure that you check that the bulbs are working to full light strength. If in doubt change them and make sure you carry spares – we have some more suggestions for keeping your car lights well maintained on this website.
Emergency kit
The Highways Agency and the government’s Think! Road Safety campaign also recommend that you carry an emergency kit with you. This should include:
·         Ice scraper and de-icer
·         Torch
·         Warm clothes and a blanket
·         A pair of boots
·         First-aid kit
·         Battery jump leads
·         A shovel if it’s likely to snow
·         Food and a warm drink in a flask for particularly cold weather
·         Sunglasses to protect from glare caused by low winter sun

Greener Driving

This is one of a series of articles brought to you by the MOT Chelmsford blog.

When it comes to renewing your car, it is no longer just a choice between petrol and diesel engines. Choosing an electric car or hybrid model would be a more environmentally friendly option. And, of course, it is  worth bearing in mind that all electric cars are exempt from road tax.
There are also cars that run on biofuels, although you would need to check the availability of these fuels in your area. Consider a vehicle with a 1.4 litre engine or smaller. All new cars are tested to check that their exhaust emissions meet European standards, so as a general rule, the newer the car the lower the emissions.

Having your petrol engine car professionally converted to run on Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) would probably mean it gives off lower toxic emissions. The conversion costs around £1,000 but you would notice a big saving per litre at the pumps. Discover whether your petrol or diesel engine can be converted to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which emits fewer toxic chemicals.
Cars with diesel engines use less fuel and don’t give out as much CO2 as their petrol engine counterparts, but the latter produce fewer toxic emissions. 

Whatever car you drive, there are lots of simple things you can do to save fuel. Under inflated tyres create more rolling resistance, which uses more fuel. Check the tyre pressure regularly and adjust it if necessary. Have your old tyres replaced with energy saving ones where possible and arrange for the wheel alignment to be looked at, as your car will be more energy efficient if it is correctly set.

A little TLC will go a long way to keeping your car in good condition and running at its most efficient. Make sure you have it serviced regularly, keep the engine correctly tuned, check that the fuel and ignition systems are operating as they should. When you change your oil use the correct grade recommended for your car, and keep your air filter clean.

Extra weight equals extra fuel consumption, so, before you set off, remove any unnecessary items from the boot and do not travel with an empty roof rack. Do you need air conditioning on? How about the electrical items, such as a heated windscreen?

Drive off as soon as possible when you start your engine up  and don’t pump out more CO2 than is necessary. Avoiding harsh braking and heavy use of the accelerator, which will reduce your fuel use and the wear and tear on your car. If you are at a standstill for more than three minutes turn the engine off.

Thank you for visiting the MOT Chelmford blog.