How can I avoid a car breakdown this winter?

Some small changes can help protect your car against any mechanical issues.

Winter checks
Winter checks

The winter weather can really have an effect on your car, with colder temperatures often ‘shocking’ vehicle components. Features such as batteries, wipers and tyres can all take a hammering during the darker months, which is why checking them over beforehand is so vital.

Fortunately, road safety and breakdown recovery organisation GEM Motoring Assist has released some basic tips on what you can check on your vehicle before the winter hits.

Get your battery checked

Car battery
(GEM)

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Cold weather can put extra strain on an older battery, which would make it less able to get a car started. GEM says that a number of winter breakdown calls that it attends relate to flat batteries, too.

So, if your engine seems to be turning over more slowly than usual, it’s best to get it checked out by a professional. It might mean that the battery needs replacing.

Make sure your car has the right amount of anti-freeze

Engine shot
Coolant is key to maintaining an engine’s temperature

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As you might imagine, anti-freeze is pretty important when the temperatures fall. It’s added to the water in your engine’s cooling system to prevent it from freezing and doing damage to the system.

GEM recommends that you contact a local dealer or mechanic to ensure that the levels are topped up correctly.

Check your lights

Being visible is especially important in winter. (Vauxhall)

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Your lights are so important during winter and the darker days that it brings. Not only are they crucial for illuminating the road ahead, but they’re also vital for making sure that you’re visible to other road users.

So make sure that they’re all working as they should be and clean them regularly to keep them clear of dirt, too.

Make sure your tyres have plenty of tread

Tyre pressure check
It’s paramount that a car’s tyres are inflated to the correct level (Goodyear)

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GEM says that you should be checking the tread depth and pressures weekly throughout the winter. Properly maintained tyres will make sure that the safety systems on your car are working as effectively as possible, while also helping to deliver the best possible fuel economy.

GEM recommends a minimum tread depth of 3mm – over the 1.6mm legal limit – as this will help to disperse more water and reduce the chance of a skid.

Replace windscreen wipers if needed

A heavy downpour can see your windscreen wipers become a key component of your car. It’s why checking them – both front and rear – is so important. Make sure that they’re not smearing when in use and, if they are, it’s a good idea to replace them.

Make sure that you’ve got plenty of screenwash, too, and top it up if required. Remember, wipers can’t clear ice, so if your windscreen is frosted up avoid using them to prevent damage.

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