When the summer draws to an end, and the cold autumnal weather starts to arrive, it opens up a whole myriad of different tasks that need to be carried out in order to ensure you are properly prepared for the winter months. However, one of the most important, yet often overlooked obligations is making sure that your car is in a suitable and fully functioning condition before winter takes hold. Cold weather has a tendency to create problems for vehicles, so taking all the appropriate measures beforehand is essential if you want to avoid a whole host of inconveniences further down the line.
Here are some important steps you should consider following to ready your car for when the weather eventually decides to take a turn.
Clean your lights
Headlights are an indispensable part of any vehicle, and without them, you would not legally be allowed on the roads. Unfortunately, they are prone to picking up dirt and becoming ineffectual, particularly in the wintertime. Muddy slush can easily flick up and block out the full beam, while lighting assemblies only need a small crack to start letting in moisture which, if it comes into contact with the bulb, will cause it to blow.
For these reasons, getting into the habit of regularly cleaning and checking all your lights -- particularly your headlights -- should be right up near the top of your list as the cold weather starts to creep in. Not only could you end up getting pulled over and fined should you be caught driving without your lights working, it can also prove exceedingly dangerous to other road users who won`t be able to see you so visibly.
Invest in dedicated winter tires
Replacing normal tires with dedicated, top-quality tires and wheels specifically designed for winter has become an annual ritual for many road users, especially for those who experience particularly cold seasons.
Winter tires -- also commonly referred to as `snow tires` -- are specialist tires designed to provide optimum traction and grip in cold conditions. They do this by dispersing water and snow, and allow the rubber of the tires to shift around more easily, thus improving contact with the terrain.
According to TRAC`s 2017 Winter Tire Report, following the enforcement of legislation that required all road users to use winter tires in Quebec, there was a five percent reduction in road traffic accidents and 574 fewer injuries during the next winter. This clearly demonstrates the importance of switching from regular tires to dedicated winter ones as the temperature starts to drop.
Stock up on antifreeze
Antifreeze serves a number of important purposes, including raising the boiling point of engine coolant to avoid overheating, protecting the engine from corrosion, aiding the transfer of heat around the vehicle, and stopping scale from building up inside.
However, arguably its principal role is during the winter when it is used to lower the freezing point of the vehicle`s cooling system and prevent it from getting frozen over. A frozen cooling system can lead to the car breaking down, a situation you won`t want to find yourself in the middle of winter on a cold, dark evening.
Therefore, it is a good idea to stock up on antifreeze before the winter arrives to make sure you have enough to last you, particularly if you know you will be going on any long journeys. Take the time to check you have got the right one too, as some vehicles require different types.
Check your battery
There are a number of different tips when it comes to maintaining your car battery during the winter. Cold weather is hard on batteries and, subsequently, experts recommend checking your battery as summer comes to an end in order to avoid any hassle caused by an unexpected failure when the temperature falls.
It is useful to carry out checks of the components surrounding the battery too. Inspect cables, posts and fasteners to ensure that they are in good working order. If you spot any sign of corrosion, a good suggestion is to use a stiff wire brush to clean it, while also taking the appropriate steps to reduce excessive vibration.
While some breakdowns and accidents are unavoidable, spending a sufficient amount of time and money ensuring you have taken all the adequate safety measures is well worth the effort in the long run, as it will give you peace of mind that you have done everything in your power to minimize the risks during the cold months.