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Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter

Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter


As the nights draw in and Autumn is in the air, we look at how you can make your car Winter-ready.

Preparing your Car for Winter

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees and there’s a distinct chill in the air. Sad to say, but Winter’s around the corner, and it’s a challenging time of year for you and your car. Not only do adverse weather conditions make driving difficult, but the low temperatures take their toll on the car itself.

With that in mind we’ve put together a quick checklist to make sure your car’s in the best possible shape for winter.

Fit winter tyres

When temperatures fall below seven degrees, winter tyres provide more grip than normal rubber, and their performance in snowy and wet conditions is vastly superior. In fact, they can make such a difference that countries including Germany and Austria have made them compulsory during the winter months.

You need to keep your summer tyres for when the weather improves, because above seven degrees, winter rubber becomes less effective. Rather than changing the tyres themselves, it’s often easiest to put winter tyres on some cheap steel wheels and simply run the car on those between December and April before swapping back to your nice, shiny alloys.

Close up of the front tyre of a bronze coloured car in the snow

Snow chains

Snow chains are rarely useful in the UK, but if you plan to take your car abroad you’ll find they’re often a legal requirement. Don’t use them unless you absolutely have to, though, because they tear up roads and offer far less grip than winter tyres unless there’s snow under the wheels.

It’s also worth noting that some modern cars can’t accommodate snow chains thanks to their huge alloy wheels, and that some alternatives, such as snow socks, are illegal in some countries.

CLose up of a car with snow chains on the tyres

Check your lights

With days getting shorter, now is a good time to make sure your lights are working. Switch the headlights on and walk around the car checking each bulb in turn, then ensure that the indicators are working and use a reflective surface such as a window or garage door to make sure the brake lights work.

Many people forget that lights are not just for seeing with – it’s important that you can be seen easily by other road users. If the weather turns snowy, rainy or foggy, turn your lights on to make sure everyone else knows you’re there.

Close up of rear light cluster on a car

Top up vital fluids

Winter’s salty roads and inclement weather mean you’re likely to use far more windscreen washer fluid than normal, so make sure you’ve got plenty in the bottle. In the summer, you can use more water than washer fluid, but the fluid should be less dilute in winter because the fluid has an anti-freezing agent in it.

It’s also worth checking all the car’s other vital fluids, such as oil and coolant – you don’t want to breakdown if you can possibly avoid it.

Carry blankets and warm clothing

Getting stuck by the side of the road due to a breakdown or an accident is never a pleasant experience, but it’s far worse in the depths of winter. It’s important, therefore, that you carry some blankets and warm clothing to keep your body temperature up if you get stuck.

Light Assist

Cars such as the Volkswagen Tiguan come with light assist, which helps make driving in the dark safer. Headlights with dynamic cornering swivel to match your steering angle, providing up to 90% better illumination at corners. And when you unlock your car in the dark, light assist will automatically switch on your headlights for you to help you find your way safely. Your lights will also automatically change to the most suitable setting based on your environment for example, dipping when there is oncoming traffic or illuminating when it suddenly gets darker, when driving through a tunnel, for instance.

Night Vision

Vehicles are starting to be fitted with night vision technology to help drivers in dark conditions. These systems typically use infrared to detect people, animals, and objects in the road ahead that might not be visible to you in the dark. An image of the road ahead will then be displayed on a digital display screen on your dashboard. Depending on the model, it may also illuminate your headlights or sound a warning tone to alert you of hazards on the road. The Audi S6 is one of many cars with this feature.

Screen Scene

There’s no point in keeping your lights bright if you can’t see other vehicles. Keep your windscreen clean and free from obstructions, and if you have any chips (and we don’t mean the takeaway kind) now would be a good time to get them fixed. Extreme weather can cause a chipped or cracked windscreen to smash, which could leave your Christmas plans, quite literally, shattered. And with most car insurances covering windscreen chips, you should be able to get the work completed quickly, at home or work and for free. Check that your windscreen wipers are working properly as you’ll definitely need them. However, don’t be tempted to use them on a frozen windscreen unless you want to replace them AND their motor.

Winter Mode/Snow Mode

Like many SUVs, the Peugeot 2008 comes with a Snow Mode specially designed to help you out in wintry conditions. This is particularly useful when you set off on a slippery road surface such as ice, snow, or slush. In other cars, this feature is called Winter Mode. Whatever its name, this useful function provides more traction on slippery surfaces, helping you set off with greater ease without impersonating a Dancing On Ice contestant!

Are Winter Tyres worth it?

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