WINTER CARE FOR YOUR VEHICLE

It makes sense to protect one of the most valuable assets you own, especially when it can affect the safety of you, your passengers and other motorists on the road. Taking extra care of your vehicle during the colder months is well worth the effort.

Battery care:

The average car battery lasts between two and five years when properly maintained, so take care of it to prolong its lifespan. Battery life is also affected by temperature, humidity and evaporation. 

When it’s chilly, increased amps are drawn by the starter to get a cold engine turning over. If your vehicle doesn’t start immediately, don’t keep on trying as this may damage the starter, battery, and other electronic components.

Other tips:

  • If you only drive short distances or go out infrequently, try to do a slightly longer drive once a week or so to ensure the battery stays charged and to maintain its lifespan. 
  • Ensure that all devices such as the radio, interior and exterior lights, windscreen wipers, air-con and demisters are turned off when parking for the night. In cold weather, a fully-charged car battery provides less than 50% of the power than during warm weather so don’t waste the power you have.
  • Parking against a wall will act as a reminder to turn off the lights as they will reflect on the wall if not turned off when you park.

Basic care:

  • Check the water level to ensure that the fluid plates are covered, and top up with distilled water if necessary. Avoid overfilling!
  • Remove any acid or dirt build-up from the terminals with warm soapy water. Dirt could cause the battery to self-discharge quicker.
  • Check the vehicle’s alternator belts for fraying or cracking: a loose alternator belt is a common cause of battery failure.
  • Service your vehicle when it’s due to extend the battery’s life.

Tyres:

Your insurance policy requires that your car is roadworthy when being used, and worn tyres may void that condition.

Worn tyres are extremely dangerous in all conditions, but this danger can be multiplied in icy and wet weather. Like other rubber products, tyres have a limited life span and will degrade over time. Problems that occur in old and worn tyres include:

  • Loss of control of the vehicle
  • Reduced grip on the road, especially in wet and icy weather.

Check that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, as this will ensure optimal road holding and tyre life.

Lights on!

During the shorter days of winter, headlights should be used in the early morning, late afternoon, and when visibility is poor (during mist, fog and when there’s a fire on the roadside). You might not need them on to see where you’re going, but you may need them on for other motorists and pedestrians to see you!

Windscreens and wipers:

Regularly check the condition of your wiper blades and replace them if needed: like your tyres, the rubber breaks down with wear and time. 

Basic care:

Avoid cleaning heavy mud and dust from the windscreen with the wipers as this may scratch the glass.

If there is frost on your windscreen, use a scraper to remove it (an old credit card works well) instead of warm water, which may crack the glass. 

Avoid spraying water onto the windscreen when driving in cold conditions as the water may freeze onto the windscreen, and the wipers will not be able to clear the ice.

Follow these simple car-care tips for a carefree journey during the winter months.