For example, your car will take up to TEN TIMES longer to come to a stop in icy conditions.
There are a wide range of issues which could cause problems in the winter months so it is essential that you are fully aware of the dangers posed by difficult conditions.
Fortunately, garages all over the UK offer specialist Winter Checks.
To help you understand why it is so important to get a winter check, we enlisted the help of one of our expert Technicians, Craig Stein.
He explains exactly what gets checked and what could go wrong in harsh conditions.
What gets checked?
A winter check is an incredibly valuable service offered by garages signed up to WhoCanFixMyCar.com.
Having a winter check is the best way to ensure your safety on the road while the harsh winter conditions take hold.
There are a diverse range of problems which can arise in the cold, wind and rain so it is essential your car is ready for the challenges of winter driving.
Each garage will offer a slightly different service, however, most should stick to checking the following systems and parts.
During the winter, your car will be exposed to a significantly higher amount of water, which means your car will have a higher chance of developing rust.
One of the most dangerous parts for rust to accumulate is a place where dangerous fumes can leak from on your exhaust system.
“I’ll definitely check for leaks and rust but I’ll also make sure the exhaust is fixed to the underside of the car properly as rust can cause damage to the fastenings.”
When analysing the average cost of Exhaust repair, the price comes in at £144.18 based off 8,693 lines of data.
Therefore, having your exhaust checked as part of a winter examination, could save you a huge amount of money.
Car batteries are highly susceptible in the cold weather as Craig explains;
“If a car battery is weak, then the cold will definitely kill it and you won’t be able to start your car. If you have a diesel engine, the problem will be much more likely because diesel engines require more power to start.
Checking the battery is a quick and easy part of the job but it’s really important because if you get stuck and you loose power in harsh conditions, you’ll be in trouble.”
Wipers and Washers
Heavy rain can cause a plethora of problems for cars with faults, damage or old parts.
Windscreen wipers are vital for keeping your view of the road clear however, if they are damaged or corroded, you’ll have a difficult time clearing water in heavy rain.
“The rubber on windscreen wipers can become damaged and it is recommended that a car should have them replaced every year, if you’re driving in the rain and you can’t see properly, you’re putting yourself, your passengers and everybody else on the road in danger.”
“The air-conditioning system should be refreshed or regased every two years as there is a natural loss of refrigerant gas over time.
The pollen filter will also become clogged due to how the aircon system works.
If there is a low amount of gas in the system and the filter is clogged, the aircon in your car will really struggle to clear condensation and ice from its windows.
Antifreeze Coolant Strength and Level
Once more, Craig provided his expert insight into why antifreeze is so important;
“It has to be in the engine and it is vital that it is strong enough otherwise you’ll be in serious trouble in freezing conditions.
“I have seen an entire engine seize up and a water pump full of ice in the past as a driver didn’t have enough antifreeze in their engine. They needed a massive amount of repair work which cost them a lot of money which was completely avoidable.”
It is against the law for your tyre tread to be shallower than 1.6mm however even a tread at this depth is far from ideal for driving.
“The roads can be incredibly treacherous in the winter, with black ice, rain and snow posing a big danger to drivers.
If there is a lot of water on the road and your tyres are worn down, they will simply fail to grip the road and you’ll be in serious danger of aquaplaning and losing control of the car.
The braking distance is doubled at the very least in the rain and up to ten times longer in the ice so you simply can’t afford to have bad tyres.
I’ll make sure to check tyres are safe to drive on but would actually suggest having winter tyres fitted to ensure safety in the worst conditions.
“It’s also important to keep your tyres topped up and at the right level of pressure as it makes a big difference on the road and your miles per gallon will be significantly affected if you have low pressure.”
“You’ll need to make sure you have screen wash additive to add to the screen wash itself in the winter because it could very easily freeze otherwise and then you’ll have big problems.
I have seen frozen screen wash crack the water pump so I will always try to get drivers to have additive added to make sure it doesn’t happen to them!”
Once more, the stopping distance in the ice is ten times longer and doubled in the rain so we shouldn’t need an expert to explain why working brakes are so important!
The average cost of replacing brake pads or discs is £159.91, which is based off a massive 38,966 lines of data.
You could avoid high replacement costs if a Technician spots a problem early which is another good reason to have a Winter Check!
“If you are driving in thick fog, heavy rain or snow, you simply can’t afford to have faulty lighting, I always make sure all of the bulbs are screwed in tightly as drivers sometimes fail to replace them properly.”
Before You Set off...
Driving in the snow can be a real challenge, even for the most experienced drivers. However, if the tread on your tyres isn’t at the correct level, it’s going to be even more difficult as your car won’t be able to grip the road!
Even if your tyres have a 2mm tread, it is still advisable to get a replacement.
Once temperatures dip below 7 degrees, you should consider fitting winter tyres as they are designed to deal with adverse conditions such as heavy snow.
If your car has been snowed on or the windows have been frozen over, it’s important to deal with the problem in the correct way, failure to do so will endanger you on the road and potentially damage your car!
If your windows are frozen over, use water which is 35-55 degrees to remove the ice. Whatever you do DON’T USE BOILING WATER! This may lead to shattering the window completely.
If there is a shelf of snow on top of your car, make sure to remove it with a brush.
You should also ensure you clean your mirrors properly as ice may obstruct the driver's view of the road.
Driving in the Snow and Ice
Try to keep the following points in mind while you are driving in difficult conditions;
- Reduce your speed! As we mentioned in our opening section, braking distance is TEN TIMES longer in the snow and ice.
- Avoid sharp braking or turning, you’ll lose control of your vehicle if you don’t.
- Use dipped headlights as the visibility in falling snow is significantly reduced.
Drive in a lower gear than usual and instead of braking sharply, take your foot off the accelerator and then apply the brakes softly to come to a controlled halt.
In an Emergency…
If you find yourself stuck in the snow, here are some essential pieces of advice;
- If you get stuck in a rut in the snow, whatever you do, don’t try to speed out of it at full pelt!
- This will ensure that you get out of the rut in a calm and controlled manner.
- If you get caught in a snow drift, don’t leave your car. Simply keep the engine running and air conditioning on to stay warm. Call emergency services or your breakdown assistance for help.
Wind and Rain
Wind and rain can seriously affect your driving as well as the other vehicles on the road so make sure to keep the following advice in mind;
Surface water is extremely dangerous and can cause your car to aquaplane. This happens when the tread on your wheels get full of water and your car effectively loses all grip on the road. If this happens, stop braking or accelerating. The water should be filtered from the tread and grip restored.
- Once you have driven through water, gently squeeze your brakes while driving to dry them off.
- Unfortunately, flooding in the UK is becoming more prominent which means more roads will be at risk of being submerged at certain points. When approaching a flooded area, remember to;
- Test the depth of the water before driving through if possible.
- Take another route if possible.
- If you decide to drive through deep water; drive slowly in first gear but keep engine speed high by slipping the clutch to avoid stalling.
- Be aware of the bow wave generated by other drivers on the opposite side of the road.
In high winds, it is vital to keep an eye out for riders on two wheels as they could be blown over on the road
Keep a close eye on high sided vehicles when passing; lorries and vans are susceptible to high winds and can even get blown over! Don’t try to overtake if you see a big vehicle swaying to one side!
Beware of falling debris, whether it’s from buildings, trees or rock faces, make sure you are alert when the wind starts picking up. If you are parking your car, try to avoid putting it next to trees or dangerous areas where debris could fall.
Thick fog is extremely dangerous to drive in so try to avoid making a journey if possible. However, if you really need that caramel covered doughnut at half ten at night, here are the things you need to know about driving in the fog.
- Ensure your lights are in full working order.
- Switch your lights on even if it is in the middle of the day.
- Stay well back from cars in front of you.
- Don’t speed up immediately if you leave a ‘bad patch’ of fog, you may have simply temporarily left the bad area, you may find yourself in worse conditions in a matter of seconds.
- Try not to park on the road as your stationary car may cause danger to others on the road.
In the cold, animals can use cars as shelter and get attracted to the heat they give off after a driver has parked.
Make sure to check under your car and on top of the wheels for cats especially!
Finding a mechanic you can trust to do a good job and charge a fair price, is not always easy which is why we simplified the process.
We work with a network of 8,500 mechanics and garages across the UK so we can find competitive Winter Check deals for you.
To find the best Winter Check available in your region;
- Enter your car registration number.
- Give us a few details about your car and your requirements.
- We’ll send you a great selection of quotes from mechanics and garages in your area.
You can then compare the quotes and read reviews from previous customers to find the best Winter Check deals in your area, before booking the Winter Check.