Winter is on its way to South Africa, with temperatures dropping across the board. It’s the time of year to unpack the heaters, get the fireplace ready and bring your jackets out of storage. Often forgotten by many is preparing our vehicles for winter. Here are a few things to keep in mind so that you stay safe on the roads this winter.
The colder your vehicles engine is the harder your battery has to work to get the starter to get it going. This is why it is more common for people to experience battery issues during the colder months of the year. Here are a few things to check on your battery to ensure it is in good working order.
- Check the water (electrolyte) level to make sure it’s not too low (it must cover the fluid plates). If necessary, top it up with distilled water. Avoid overfilling and clean any spillage.
- Keep your car battery clean by wiping the terminals with warm (not hot) soapy water and remove any acid or dirt build-up, which could cause the battery to self-discharge quicker.
- Secure your car battery properly to make sure it doesn’t shift out of place under the bonnet.
- Charge your car battery regularly. If you typically only drive short distances or use your car infrequently, you may need to take a longer (+30 min) drive every week to ensure the battery stays charged and maintain its lifespan.
- Switch off before you switch on. Make sure that you switch all other devices in your vehicle off when parking for the night. Air-Conditioner, radio, lights, seat warmers, windscreen wipers, demisters, etc The aim is to reduce the drain on the battery when trying to start your vehicle.
- Alternator belts. Check the belts for fraying or cracking. A loose alternator belt is a common cause of battery failure.
- Service your car. Keeping your car’s service history up to date will help to extend the battery’s life.
TIP: If you struggle to start your vehicle, do not crank the engine continuously as this may damage the starter, car battery, and other electronic components.
The average life of a car battery is usually between 2-5 years if looked after properly. Make sure you note when you purchase a needed battery so you can replace it at the correct time when it’s due. Note that a batteries life may also be affected by where you live, temperature, humidity and evaporation all can affect your batteries life.
Keeping your tyres in good condition is vital all year round. Worn tyres are dangerous in all conditions wet or dry as grip becomes limited. Once you add wet and snow into this become even more dangerous. Make sure to regularly check that your tyres are filled to the correct pressure. Get into the habit of doing this when filling up with fuel.
It is also worth noting that maintaining your vehicle’s tyres in good order is not just vital for your safety it’s also required by law. A vehicle with worn tyres can be fined for being unroadworthy, the law states that tyres should have a minimum of 1mm tread on each tyre. Most tyres have tread wear indications to make it easy for you to keep up with their wear.
Remember your lights
As we get deeper into winter one will find days get shorter and nights get longer. This may mean that your daily commute is now being done in darkness or darker than usual conditions. Make sure to regularly check that your headlights are in full working order.
Windscreens and wipers
For those who park their cars outside overnight, you may find that a layer of frost forms on the windscreen when things get cold. Do not use warm water to clean this off as it may cause your windscreen to crack. Rather buy a windscreen scraper from your local hardware store or use an old credit card to remove ice. From inside your vehicle us your demister to help loosed ice build-up. Make sure all windows are clear before your drive your vehicle.
TIP: If possible, park your car undercover or in a garage, at night this will ensure your windscreen is clear in the mornings.
One should also note that you should avoid using windscreen sprayers during freezing conditions as the water will freeze on your windscreen making it difficult to see.
Looking after these items on your vehicle will ensure your car looks after you this winter! Travel safe!