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Preparing for Winter and Essential Car Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your car properly is essential for ensuring its reliability and safety, especially during different seasons. Our driving instructors at BookInstructor will teach you to drive safely for life, but eventually you will be on your own and responsible for your own safety and car. Regular maintenance checks can prevent breakdowns and costly repairs, while understanding the legal requirements for your tyres ensures you comply with safety standards. Hereโ€™s a detailed guide on how to maintain your car, including winter preparation and emergency supplies.

Regular Maintenance Checks

  1. Oil and Fluid Levels

    • Regularly check and top up engine oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid.
    • Change the oil as per the manufacturerโ€™s guidelines.
  2. Tyres

    • Monthly checks for tyre pressure and tread depth are crucial. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre around the entire circumference of each wheel.
    • Also, Inspect for damage such as cuts or bulges.
  3. Brakes

    • Pay attention to any unusual noises or pulling to one side while braking.
    • Have brake pads, discs, and fluid checked regularly.
  4. Battery

    • Clean battery terminals to prevent corrosion. Replace batteries that are over 3-5 years old or show signs of weakness.
  5. Lights and Electrical Components

    • Ensure all lights and electrical systems are working correctly. Replace any faulty bulbs.
  6. Windshield Wipers

    • Replace wiper blades that cause streaks or miss areas. Keep the windshield washer reservoir full and carry some spare in your car boot, don’t get caught our with a mucky window you cannot see out of.
  7. Air Filters

    • Replace air filters as recommended to maintain fuel efficiency and engine performance.
  8. Belts and Hoses

    • Check for signs of wear such as cracks or leaks.

Winter Preparation and Emergency Supplies

Winter driving can be challenging due to reduced visibility and slippery road conditions. Proper preparation can help ensure your safety and comfort during these colder months.

  1. Winter Tyres

    • Consider switching to winter tires for improved traction in snow and ice.
  2. Antifreeze

    • Ensure the coolant system is filled with antifreeze, which is crucial for preventing freezing.
  3. Battery Check

    • Cold weather can affect battery performance, so ensure itโ€™s in good condition.
  4. Lights

    • Clean and check all lights regularly as days are shorter and visibility is often poor in winter.
  5. Windshield Care

    • Use a winter-grade windshield washer fluid that wonโ€™t freeze.
    • Ensure your wipers are in good condition to handle snow and sleet.
  6. Emergency Supplies

    • Ice Scraper and De-icer: Essential for clearing ice and snow off your windows.
    • Warm Clothing and Blankets: In case you get stranded, these can keep you warm.
    • Flashlight and Batteries: Useful during breakdowns in the dark.
    • Emergency Food and Water: Non-perishable snacks and water can be vital if youโ€™re stuck for an extended period.
    • First Aid Kit: For any minor injuries or health emergencies.
    • Road Salt or Cat Litter: Can provide traction if your car gets stuck in snow.
    • Shovel: Useful for digging your car out of snow.
    • Portable Phone Charger: To ensure your phone is always charged in case of an emergency.
  7. Driving Habits

    • Adjust your driving style to suit winter conditions โ€“ reduce speed, increase following distance, and be cautious on icy roads. Stopping distances can be TEN times normal in the ice and snow.

Legal Requirements for Tyres

  • Tread Depth: Ensure a minimum of 1.6mm tread depth.
  • Condition: Tyres must be free from significant damage.
  • Pressure: Maintain correct tyre pressure for safety and fuel efficiency. Your car manual should have this information, or sometimes you can check for a sticker on the inside of the car door, driver or passenger side.
Tips for Routine Maintenance
  • Regular Inspections: Conduct routine checks to catch any issues early.
  • Professional Servicing: Adhere to the manufacturerโ€™s service schedule.
  • Maintenance Records: Keep a log of all maintenance activities.
  • Proactive Approach: Address problems immediately to prevent further damage.

Regular vehicle maintenance and being prepared for winter conditions are key to safe and efficient driving. By adhering to a maintenance schedule, understanding tyre safety requirements, and equipping your car with essential winter supplies, you can tackle the challenges of driving in colder months with confidence. Always refer to your vehicleโ€™s manual and seek professional advice when necessary. If you feel like you could do with a refresher driving lesson to prepare for winter, or how to fully ensure you are ready for all aspects of winter driving, book a 4 hour refresher driving course with today!

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