The cold mornings and regular need to de-ice the windscreen mean you have to get a winter car check. The frosty starts can put a massive strain on the battery, fluids can freeze, wipers can wear quickly, and maintaining the recommended tyre tread depth becomes more crucial.
To ensure you stay safe on the roadway, you need to perform a few simple winter car checks. Even if you feel your vehicle is running optimally, you still need to go for a full car service check.
What is a Winter Car Check?
A winter car check includes inspection of every vehicle component that can cause a problem in the cold, snowy, and wet conditions. You can carry out this car maintenance check yourself or visit your local dealership/workshop for this purpose. The winter check typically encompasses inspection of tyres, battery, coolant, engine oil, windscreen wipers, different fluids, and so on.
We suggest you perform the necessary inspections yourself and only visit the workshop if you encounter severe problem areas.
We also recommend you take your MOT test before its due date to make sure your vehicle is fit for the road. In case you are interested in buying a used car, do not forget to take an MOT vehicle check. It will reveal how well maintained the vehicle is. The MOT check is free at Car Analytics, so go for it.
Besides, you should also ask a trusted mechanic or a company to inspect the car you are interested in.
What is Included in Our Free Winter Car Check?
Some garages in the UK offer a free winter car check to its loyal customers. Their car service checklist usually includes six key areas.
- Tyre Inspection
- Battery Test
- Coolant & Anti-freeze Top-up
- Windscreen Wipers Inspection
- Lights Assessment
- Oil Level Replenishment
However, one second-hand car check may differ from the other, so you should be prepared to pay some cash for one service or the other.
What Comes Under A Full Car Service Check?
A full car service check may include inspection of 50 or more components, different system tests, and tunings. The most crucial areas involve:
- An engine oil change or filter replacement
- Inspecting lights, tyres, exhaust, and workings of brakes and steering
- Certifying your powerplant is ‘tuned’ to work in its best state.
- Verifying hydraulic fluid and coolant levels
- Examining the cooling system (from radiators in your vehicle to pumps and hoses)
- Suspension examining
- Steering alignment
- Scrutinizing the vehicle’s battery condition
A full vehicle service usually costs around £125 on average. However, this varies from workshop to workshop and may differ up and down Great Britain. We advise you to shop around while looking to book a full winter car check; you definitely will be able to save money.
Bear in mind, the cost of the service does not involve repairs and replacements of components. For this, you have to pay separately.
I Have Just Taken an MOT, Do I Still Need Full Service?
Contrary to common belief, the MOT test and full car service are two opposite sides of a coin. An MOT is an annual roadworthiness test to ensure the car is safe to drive. Although it tells which parts have failed during the examination and includes advisory notes as well, it is not about replacing or repairing worn out parts. A full winter care check makes sure all the faulty components get a repair or replacement, while an MOT will not.
How to Keep Your Car Healthy in Winters?
Keeping your car healthy in winters should be your top priority if you want to avoid weather-related vehicle accidents or being stranded on the roadside on a chilly day. Here are six simple inspections to ready your car for winter.
Fuel – Make sure to top up the fuel tank before a journey. Heavy traffic and start/stop occurrences are very common in winters of the UK. Running low on fuel while stuck in the traffic might be the last thing in your mind, so be proactive.
Oil – It is also prudent to check oil levels regularly in your vehicle. Replenish the engine oil, steering oil, brake oil as well as transmission oil before any long journey. If you are unfamiliar, which oil you should use and how much oil you need for different purposes, check your owner’s manual. Ensure you do not overfill and always pour the right amount.
Rubber – While tyre’s health is by far the most vital aspect of your vehicle’s safety, its significance increases in winters. At this time of the year, the rubber needs proper tread depth for traction and grip on icy and wet surfaces. Moreover, you need to make sure they have the recommended tyre pressure (find it in your manual or inside the driver’s door). The UK and Europe have set the legal tyre tread depth to 1.6mm. However, for icy or wet surfaces, the minimum tread depth should be 3mm.
Besides tyres, rubber on your wiper blades should be ideal for cleaning the dirt accumulated from rain, snow, ice, and road salt. The vehicle must also use recommended washer fluid for better cleaning of the windscreen.
Coolant – It is a mixture of water and anti-freeze, which circulates your engine to keep it cool. Similar to oil, you should top-up the coolant to the recommended level. Keep in mind to never check the coolant level with the engine running; do it when the engine is cool.
Electrics – Examine the vehicle lights and indicators before any journey and replace the bulbs that are not working. Winters are hard on the batteries, so make sure you run a battery check before any extended drive. Replace the battery as soon as it starts showing the sign of ageing. Do not put off this maintenance task.
Screen Wash – You need a proper anti-freeze screen wash to keep the windscreen free of ice and dirt. Ensure you buy the screenwash effective down to no less than -15 degrees Celsius. It is also essential to avoid the risk of a frozen windscreen.
What is Included in a Car Checklist?
While you can get a good idea of a vehicle’s past by checking records for stolen, insurance write-off, MOT, etc., you are still at risk if you do not follow a comprehensive car buying checklist. An excellent, used car checklist should include:
- Engine. Inspect for leaks, oil level, head gasket state, and exhaust smoke.
- Gearbox and clutch. Experience and pay attention to the evenness of the gear change and examine the clutch biting point.
- Bodywork. Assess the exterior and underneath – a torch is handy when you go down the vehicle.
- Wheels and tyres. Tread depth and rubber state of every tyre.
- Interior. Investigate the boot, dash (for mileage and warning lights), and electronics meticulously.
- Test drive. It is wise to test drive your vehicle until you feel everything is working suitably.
- Documents. V5c, service history, and MOT (you can use our free car check service to get it).