Winter car care: 9 top tips
Beat the winter blues with these essential top tips, courtesy of a Honda mechanic with more than 25 years’ experience.
When it comes to cars, John White’s your man. John joined Honda as an apprentice in 1989, worked his way up and is now responsible for maintaining Honda UK’s Press fleet. After spending almost 30 years at Honda, he’s had to repair countless cars that haven’t received their TLC during winter. So don’t be a lemon; read his top tips.
01 Commit to a weekly check
Car ownership is ultimately about convenience, but making time for a once-over is part of the package, so weekly checks are essential: lights, brakes, tyres, you name it. Don’t worry if you can’t stretch to it yourself – just ask an expert. Most garages will charge a nominal fee for a routine checkup, and those ‘insignificant’ problems can worsen in the winter months. So get ’em looked at every week.
02 Check your lights
Check your external lights are working – both headlights and brake lights. Ensure that there’s no damage to the lamps, no water ingress, nothing hanging off. And remember: salt and dirt dims lights like nobody’s business, so give ’em a good scrub.
03 Double-check your tyres
Knackered tyres can impact your steering and your braking, so, if you let standards slip, you’re in for a double whammy catastrophe. Two key things to look at: pressure and depth. Make sure there’s plenty of tread, and minimal – if any – damage to the side walls. The same goes for wheels.
04 And triple-check your brakes
Bad weather can place undue stress on your brakes. Just think back to those times you peppered them in a blizzard or slid in the frost – it’s tough stuff. So if they grind, squeal or feel not-quite-right, I strongly suggest taking your car in for a checkup. Better safe than sorry.
05 Clean your windscreen wipers
Experts recommend you fit fresh wiper blades every winter, which, for the price, is no tall order. Run your finger down the edge of your windscreen wiper blades to check that they’re not split or damaged – and, while you’re at it, give them a good clean. You don’t want your windscreen smearing up for the sake of a few quid.
06 Keep an eye out for chips or cracks
You know that teeny-weeny crack that appeared in the summer? Sort it. You might have the tiniest of chips in your windscreen, but trust me: one overnight frost can split the screen completely.
07 Keep your fluids topped up
Fallout from a snowstorm can splatter your windshield with all sorts of debris, so always keep your washer fluid topped up – especially before a long journey. Refill your antifreeze every two years, too – but don’t top it up with water. And last but not least, keep a (relatively) full tank of fuel at all times. A full tank won’t only prevent freezing inside the petrol pump, it will keep the engine running in times of crisis too.
08 Upgrade to a new battery
Most batteries last about four or five years, so if yours is getting a bit long in the tooth, get a new one for winter. Hondas are famed for their reliability, but one cold snap could wreak havoc on your battery, so get it sorted!
09 Pack a survival kit
You should always keep a survival kit in the car: a cosy blanket, head torch, first aid kit and jump cables will do for starters, but if you’re heading into the countryside, or braving stormy weather, consider a snow shovel, phone charger, some water, a few snacks and a hot flask of tea or coffee. You never know when you might need them.