The days are shorter, the weather is grim and everyone has started showing off their finest cardigans and woolly hats and layering on the lip balm. But as well as getting yourself prepared for winter, you have to make sure your car is ready for the harsher climate. And what better way to test its winter readiness than booking it into your local Arnold Clark for a seasonal check?
Wondering what to expect from your car’s winter check? Arnold Clark Hillington Renault/Dacia Service Manager Barry Devlin can tell you exactly what to expect – and why a winter once-over is so important.
The most obvious benefit to having your vehicle checked in time for winter is to identify any problems early. When the temperature drops, or worse still, during a big freeze, those conditions can really hinder car functions.
Our service technicians will assess six main categories to determine your car’s winter readiness.
We’ll test your headlights, brake lights, wipers, washers and horn to make sure you enjoy maximum visibility and can alert drivers to any hazards.
Our technicians will check your engine coolant protection levels, before topping up your oil and screenwash if they’re looking low.
We’ll also check your brake fluid levels and make sure there are no leaks. This is really important to check because when brake fluid absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, its boiling point is lowered, making your brakes much less efficient.
We’ll also check that your radiator is in good working order. Be careful, though; if there’s not enough antifreeze (or engine coolant) in the radiator – which is made of lightweight metal aluminium – when water in the radiator freezes it expands and can damage or even burst your radiator.
And, if your screenwash isn’t at a suitable concentration, it could damage the system, or cause your washers to freeze. That could stop them working, or the water could freeze as it sprays onto your windscreen, obscuring your view of the road ahead. That’s why it’s really important your car is winter-safe.
There are two main things we’ll check with tyres: their pressure, and condition. Cold air contracts, so a cold snap often causes tyre pressure issues. Through this expansion and contraction, you lose air through ‘dissipation.’
In terms of tread, it is recommended that you have at least 3mm tread for winter road conditions. Arnold Clark offers winter tyres, which remain supple even when cold, with a softer compound which can still be used all year round.
A service technician will carry out a visual inspection of your vehicle’s underside, checking its overall condition and highlighting any areas of concern.
We’ll do the same for the brakes, visually inspecting the brake pads and brake discs to check that they’re in roadworthy condition. Depending on their condition, we will advise you about what to do next.
Another aspect to consider in your car’s winter check is battery life. Car battery life is generally 5–6 years, with higher demands placed on the battery in winter, given your increased use of lights, wipers and heaters. We’ll use a device to check your car battery’s health.
Another important tip is to use your air conditioning in winter. While it’s normally used to chill the air in the car in summer, turning it on in winter helps to remove moisture (responsible for windscreen condensation) from the car. If you think that your AC might need a recharge, then it’s better to get this done during your winter check than waiting until the warm weather returns.
One of our technicians will send you a video of your car in the workshop, highlighting any areas of the car that might need attention, or alternatively, giving the car a clean bill of health for the winter months.
You’ll receive a detailed report by email, with breakdowns of the six categories above, each part showing one of three results:
Make sure you’re prepared for winter driving by packing some essentials into the boot of your car. If you were to be stopped for a prolonged period of time, whether in heavy traffic, or worse, in a snowdrift, you’ll want to have a blanket, sturdy winter boots, a snow shovel, a scraper, a torch and batteries, a bottle of antifreeze, and plenty of drinking water.
It’s always better to be prepared for winter driving – and if the weather is so bad, to not drive at all if it can be helped – but a health check for your car is a great start.