How to prepare your vehicle for winter

As temperatures around South Africa begin to plummet, we’ve all begun mental and practical preparations for winter, from breaking out blankets and beanies to buying heaters and stocking up on hot chocolate. One of the facets of winter that is often neglected is making preparations to protect your vehicle against the elements. Failing to do so cannot only result in your car breaking down, but also result in accidents on the road.
Here’s how you should prepare your car for winter:

Check your tyres

In certain parts of the country, such as the Western Cape, it is especially important that motorists attend to their tyres during winter, as this is a period that sees increased wet conditions on the road. As such, you should always ensure that your tyres are in good condition, not worn, and inflated to the correct pressure. It is especially important to take these precautions as the danger of worn tyres can be even more apparent in the snowy, icy or wet conditions that occur in winter. The law also requires you to take precautions, with each tyre being required to have a tread of at least one millimetre.

Check your battery

A vehicle’s battery tends to experience more problems during winter as the starter draws increased amps in order to crank the cold engine. Subsequently, this could result in you being stranded with a dead battery. The best way to prevent this scenario is to ensure that your battery is in a proper working condition. It’s essential to consistently check that the water (electrolyte) levels in the battery are correct and to top it up if necessary with distilled water. It’s also important to keep the battery clean (with warm, soapy water), to make sure it’s secured and to charge it regularly. Should you have trouble starting your vehicle in winter, be careful not to rev the engine, as this action may cause damage to the battery as well as the starter and electric components.

Check your windscreen and wipers

Undoubtedly, if your car is parked outdoor overnight, you’ve often arrived at your vehicle in the morning after a cold night and discovered a sheet of frost on your windscreen and wipers. It’s essential that you take care when disposing of this frost – don’t use warm water to clean it as your windscreen could crack. Rather make sure that you use an item such as an old credit card as well as the air-conditioner. Also, don’t use the windscreen fluid in cold conditions, as the water may freeze and you won’t be able to clear it while driving. Lastly, it’s important to inspect the condition of your wiper blades, and if necessary, replace them – they need to be functioning at optimal efficiency in order to clear your windshield during winter.

Don’t forget your lights

With the days being considerably shorter during winter time, one can often neglect the fact that it can get darker much earlier. This is especially true when you drive home from work in fading light, and the darkness suddenly creeps up on you, making visibility poor. It’s therefore critical that you make sure that your vehicle’s headlights are working properly, and you should also check that you turn them off upon finishing your journey.
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As temperatures around South Africa begin to plummet, we’ve all begun mental and practical preparations for winter.

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