Preparing your car for winter – 7-point car maintenance checklist
Whether you operate one van or 100 vehicles, daily maintenance checks are more important in winter months than ever. Cold weather can present some of the most challenging driving conditions and when winter arrives it’s important to know your vehicle(s) is more than capable of dealing with extreme weather. With only eight hours of sunlight each day and the mercury plummeting overnight, ensure your vehicle is road fit with LeasePlan UK’s winter car maintenance checklist:
1. Screen wash
Top up washer fluid regularly and give yourself extra time to de-mist your vehicle’s windows and wing mirrors; a rushed job could leave smears on your windscreen, making vision difficult in the low evening sun.
2. Check exterior lights
Clean headlamps daily to ensure you can see and be seen. Salt and dirt can quickly build up, reducing visibility at night and in poor weather conditions. Wipe off excess dirt from your registration plate to make sure your vehicle is easily identifiable.
3. Car battery
Cold and damp weather is a car battery’s enemy. If you have the correct equipment you can test a vehicle battery yourself, but it’s easier and recommended that you seek advice from a specialist. After tyres, batteries represent 16 per cent of the AA’s typical breakdown workload.
4. Winter tyres
It’s important to regularly check the tread depth and pressure of your tyres, which can improve braking and control in winter conditions. The legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm. For frequent winter drivers winter tyres offer extra grip when temperatures drop below seven-degrees and on snow and ice.
Ensure your anti-freeze is topped up regularly. Making sure you have the correct concentration is critical for the health of your engine. It is recommended to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. The concentrate is diluted with water prior to use and to ensure adequate cooling system protection a concentration of between 40 per cent and 50 per cent (by volume) is recommended.
6. Oil level
Use your dipstick to check your vehicle’s oil levels weekly and top up if needed. Low oil levels could cause your engine to seize; leading to a break down.
7. Winter car kit
It may seem a little extreme to carry an emergency kit with you, but winter weather can be unpredictable. Pack for every eventuality and ensure you have the following:
• Phone charger
• Warning triangle
• Winter boots
• Warm clothing
• Hi-visibility vest
• De-icer and a scraper
• A shovel
• A tow rope
• A torch
• Food and drink
Lesley Slater, Operations and Business Development Director, LeasePlan UK, said: “It’s hugely important to maintain the upkeep of a vehicle during the winter months, not only to conserve its value and improve fuel economy, but also because inadequate maintenance can be dangerous and potentially cause an accident.
“In many cases, vehicle faults can be identified by a simple walk-around check; by responding to a difference in the handling of the vehicle; and by reacting to warning lights as soon as they appear on the dashboard.”