Simple Winter jobs to get started on your car

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Car maintenance is very important during the winter months, and even the smallest jobs can make a world of difference to your car’s health and your driving experience.

Winter is when most breakdowns occur and the most accidents happen, so it’s important to tackle some of these simple jobs to make sure you're prepared. Correctly checking some basic components on your car can maintain your vehicle’s safety and performance in these adverse conditions.

Wipers

Do your windscreen wipers clear the screen correctly? If they smear, or leave behind any water it's time to consider changing them. Replacements are readily available, but not all wipers fit all cars so you will need to buy a set intended for your car.

There are a few different fitments, and different styles of wipers, so it's often best to fit like-for-like. Having said that you can upgrade most conventional wipers to the 'aero' or 'flat style' which look more modern, and are claimed to outperform regular conventional wipers.

Expert tip

_It's always worth measuring your wipers before ordering a new set, just to make sure the ones being sold are suitable for your vehicle. _

Handy parts and tools

Tyres

The condition of your tyres is vital for safe winter travel. The easiest and most obvious thing to check is the tread depth, this needs to be no lower than the minimum allowed depth (1.6mm) and preferably more, as the deeper the tread the better the tyre is at dissipating water.

Make sure you check the inner edge of the tyre, and it's not uncommon for tyres to wear unevenly, so at first glance it may look ok, but further investigation could reveal excessive wear. Check also the tyre sidewalls inside and out for any bulges, cracks, or splits. The rim of the wheel should be straight and not buckled or pinched.

Finally keep an eye on the tyre pressures with a simple pressure gauge. It's not a bad idea to get hold of a portable tyre inflator which is a lot easier than resorting to a foot pump if you find you need to top the tyre up.

Expert tip

The legal limit for tyre treads is 1.6mm across the centre 2/3 of the tyre. This is the same as the thickness of a 20p so use this as a guide.

Handy parts and tools

Screen wash

With all the salt on the roads, it's inevitable that you'll need to clear your screen on a regular basis. Before you run out of screen wash miles from home, why not top up now to make sure you're prepared. If you're unsure where the fluid goes check your handbook - never guess! Make sure you add the correct concentration of water to screen wash to prevent it freezing.

Expert tip

When buying screen wash look for concentrated/undiluted liquid. If you buy it 'ready to use' you're paying them to add water for you!

Handy parts and tools

Engine coolant

Engine coolant provides a vital function to keep the engine cool, but it also has anti freezing properties which are essential when the weather gets very cold. Without the correct concentration of anti-freeze in your engine you could risk it freezing, which can be very damaging.

You can buy coolant testers surprisingly cheaply, and they'll tell you if you have sufficient protection. If you need to top up with coolant, always consult the manufacturer to ensure you use the correct mix for your car. Coolant usually comes in three types, IAT, OAT and HOAT. It's inadvisable to mix the types.

Expert tips

While coolant comes in a variety of colours, there is no industry standard, so you can’t assume that a coolant in the same colour will be ok, so always check first.

Handy parts and tools

Lights

It goes without saying that you need to see and be seen in the darker hours. And while you'll be aware if one of your headlights isn’t working, when was the last time you checked your rear, or brake lights?

Get a friend to operate the lights while you check them, and replace any non-working bulbs as soon as possible… and don't forget the number plate lights! If you need to change your headlight bulbs, there are a lot of different styles, so make sure you get the correct fitment, and it's always wise to change them in pairs.

Expert tip

If your headlights have condensation in them, first make sure the rubber/plastic cover at the rear of the light is correctly fitted, and then clear the condensation with a hair dryer.

Handy parts and tools

Get Winter Ready

All the car parts and expert advice you need to keep safely on the road. Expert Tips and Advice for Winter