Winter is coming, and with it, higher numbers of cars needing repair. Driving in cold weather, snow and ice can be particularly stressful, and with the Republic of Estonia Road Administration reminding drivers they must use snow tires between December and March, it’s a great time to check over the rest of your car as well. So what should you be looking at, and how can you ensure a smooth ride on the wet, wintry roads?
Winter maintenance basics
It may seem obvious, but just in case it’s not, the first things to check are the everyday bits of your car that allow you to drive safely and be seen. Make sure your lights, registration plate and windscreen wipers are working and clean before you put your foot to the pedal, and test your brakes too. Car batteries are also often victims of the cold, so test them regularly too, and whilst you’re under the bonnet, you can check your antifreeze and windscreen wash and fill them as necessary. Lastly, grab your dipstick and assess the oil level, topping up if it’s needed – and don’t forget to read your manual to find out whether the oil is best checked hot or cold.
We talked about it earlier, but tires are very important too. When you swap out your regular tires for winter ones, check them over for any faults or wear and inflate them to the PSI indicated on your car. Being careful to check your tires regularly throughout the winter will mean you can drive much more safely, and avoid spending out on higher fuel consumption and costly repairs caused by blowouts.
Inspecting easily and safely
It should be possible to safely view most parts of your car without having to dismantle things, or raise it up on jacks. Systems like the oil, antifreeze and windscreen washers are all made to be easily checked and topped up, but there are some areas – like fuse boxes, plugs and wires – which may be harder to see or get to. For any maintenance task, try and have the correct equipment ready on hand, including a set of screwdrivers, some wrenches, a torch to illuminate darker recesses, and rags to wipe off any oil or dirt and keep your tools in good condition.
For areas that are harder to access or difficult to reach, consider investing in a video borescope. These are high tech versions of traditional borescopes, and use digital technology to project images from the end of the borescope back to the eyepiece of the operator – meaning you can have a perfect view of your engine, without having to raise it or take it apart. There are various different borescope cameras for sale, each with different features, so make sure you think about the tasks you’ll be using it for (you can inspect lots of other household equipment with a borescope too) and invest in a model that meets your needs.
A little bit of investment now, both in time and money terms, can make your winter driving experience a far more pleasant one. So grab your manual, whip out your dipstick, and wipe down your windscreen, windows and lights to make sure you stay safe, happy and legal on the roads.