Winter car maintenance

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If there’s one season that really gives your car a battering it’s winter. Your tyres, lights, wipers and heating/cooling system all have to work overtime to make sure you don’t grind to a halt by the side of the road. Fail to maintain these and trouble is guaranteed, which is why FirstCar has teamed up with to help you understand how easy it is to keep your car working properly.


You need to ensure your tyres are in good condition at all times, but in the winter they have a really hard time of things because of the low temperatures and rain or snow. It’s worth considering a set of winter tyres but at the very least, make sure that whatever is fitted has plenty of tread and isn’t under- or over-inflated. We’ve got a whole section on tyre safety but if you need to go shopping FirstCar recommends Instead of fitting winter tyres, you could buy a set of snow chains to make sure you can keep going on snowy roads. Prices start at under £20 and while using chains can be a bit fiddly, a set of these will help you keep going on icy uphill stretches and they’ll also give you much more grip if you need to reduce your speed when driving downhill. 


If your car’s engine runs low on oil, it will seize and your car will probably be a write-off. So check the oil level regularly and top it up if necessary – it’s a two-minute job that could save you a lot of grief and expense. If you’re not sure what oil you need, just put your registration number into the 123spareparts website and all will be revealed. Your car’s engine contains a mixture of water and anti-freeze to stop it overheating when it’s running. If the coolant level drops, your engine will eventually overheat and fixing things could easily cost £1000 or more. Don’t just top up the system with water though; top it up with anti-freeze. This will stop the coolant from becoming too dilute which puts it at risk from freezing when the ambient temperature drops below zero. Again, there are lots of anti-freeze option but you can pinpoint the correct one by putting your car’s registration number into the 123parts website.

Be prepared

Don’t even think about setting off until you can see through all of your windows. Unless your car is garaged you’ll need to clear all of its glass (including the headlights) before setting off, either with de-icer or a scraper. Start your engine to get some heat into the engine and while it warms up you can clear your windows – but don’t leave your car unattended at any point or it could be stolen. If it does all go wrong and your car conks out, make sure you’ve got a warning triangle and a hi-vis vest to minimise the chances of you or your car being hit at the roadside.