With winter now here, a few minutes' maintenance could see your motor through the worst the weather has to offer.
Temperatures are set to plummet and poor weather means the number of breakdowns are likely to increase throughout the winter months. So, before the worst of the winter weather takes hold, here are some of my top tips for basic motor maintenance that will see you through to spring.
1. Get your car serviced:
If your car is due a service, get it done at your earliest convenience. While the cold can cause lots of problems for cars, up to half of them can be prevented by regular servicing and maintenance checks. Servicing will also help improve the re-sale value, should you decide to change it in the future, but, the main reason is to increase reliability and keep you safe.
Also, you may have the dreaded NCT to contend with, so let Barlo Motors in Thurles look after everything for you.
2. Check the battery:
The battery is always one of my main priorities. During the winter months it suffers from a double whammy of cold temperatures - reducing the output - and the increased use of lights, heater and blower, which place it under additional strain. Getting up in the early hours on a cold winter’s morning can be harrowing enough, but when the car doesn’t start, your day just goes downhill from there.
Batteries have an effective life of around five years, so regular checks are a must for those older vehicles.
If your car is having problems starting, get the battery checked out and replaced if necessary.
3. Top up engine coolant with antifreeze:
Engine coolant should be a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. You will need to top it up with antifreeze as it becomes diluted over time. People make the mistake of topping up with water during the year, so the antifreeze gets over-diluted and freezes during very cold weather.
This can lead to the engine over-heating and a very large repair bill.
4. Check the condition of your tyres:
This is my big concern, especially on the wife’s car as a car’s tyres are key to both steering and braking, it is essential they are in good condition. Check tyres for pressure and tread depth, and for any cracking that may show on the edges I recommend a minimum of 3mm depth during the winter, compared to the legal minimum of 1.6mm, as this gives much better grip. Tyres literally mean the difference in stopping in the wet or having an accident and I never take chances with them.
5. Clean your lights:
Check that all lights, indicators and rear reflectors are clean, making sure there are no cracked lenses or blown bulbs, and don’t forget to check full beam headlights, fog lights and indicators. Lights are often forgotten about but when you are driving at night or in the early hours, how many times do you comment on someone coming towards you with faulty or dull lights.
6. Wash your windscreen and wipers & top up you wash fluid:
Give your windscreen a thorough clean inside and out and top up your screen washer fluid with antifreeze. Run your finger down the wiper blades to check for nicks and tears. I clean mine with vinegar as my Mammy used to say it cleaned everything.
7. Prepare for longer journeys:
Before setting off on a longer journey, check the weather forecast, travel news and safest routes. Also, allow extra journey time to avoid having to rush. Clear all windows of snow and ice using a scraper and de-icer, and ensure you have antifreeze in your car.
8. Carry a winter car breakdown kit:
This should include a shovel, torch, blanket, hi-visibility vest, screen-wash, food and drink supplies, scraper and de-icer, and we always carry our wellies in the car in case we get stuck. And don't forget a fully charged mobile phone. Drive according to the road and weather conditions, make sure you get wherever you are going, even if you get there a tad late.
9. Check your cover:
Comprehensive breakdown cover is crucial at this time of year and will give you the peace of mind of knowing you won’t end up stranded in the cold. With any new Ford at the moment, as well as a 7-year warranty, you also get 7 years breakdown assistance, which is a fantastic offer.
10. Other important areas
Also, keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel in case of unexpected delay and check the oil. This one sounds a bit daft, but think on it, you are going across the hills, it is snowing, you get caught and cannot carry on, you will need the heater more than anything. If you have a bit of motor know-how, check your brake pads, brake discs and brake fluid to ensure the brakes are fast and responsive. If not, just give us a call and get your car booked in for a thorough health check.
So, some tips from the mind of James Mc Vicker, your local Sales Manager here at Barlo Motors in Thurles. Be safe and have a wonderful Christmas one and all.