Take care of your motor this winter

With autumn drawing to a close and winter upon us, car care becomes more and more important.

The cold and wet conditions can have a brutal effect on your vehicle, causing you much anguish and frustration.

You'll have experienced it before. After spending precious time and money making your car's exterior shine using the best car shampoo and chrome wheel cleaners available, along comes a gritting truck and splashes salt up your doors and side panels.

Or even worse, the temperature drops below zero and you find yourself having to prise your Hydra flexi blades from your windscreen. It's certainly annoying, but with a few handy tips you can go a long way to ensuring your car stays tip top at this time of year.

Speaking with online motoring search engine Carpages.co.uk recently, IAM Drive & Survive's head of training, Simon Elstow, offered his advice on car maintenance for when the cold snap starts to come.

He said that is important to clear out your vehicle's plenum chambers. These are the tray-like areas under the bonnet, just below the windscreen. These can get clogged with leaves and other loose items and then fill with water.

This water can then leak into your cars electronics and cause you to have a hefty repair bill on your hands – the last thing you need in the expensive run up to Christmas.

He added "A patch of wet leaves can be as dangerous as hitting standing water – take care and reduce your speed before driving onto them."

He suggested making sure your wiper blades are in good condition and always remove any condensation and ice prior to setting off on a journey. If your blades are squeaky as they wipe, then it is probably best that you have them replaced,

The weather at this time can take a serious toll on your car battery. The vehicle expert suggested keeping the top of the battery as clean and as dry as possible and also make sure the terminals are free from ware and tight. If a battery is older than three years, get it checked as you may well save yourself many frustrating mornings.

Mr Elstow also said: "Bear in mind that leaves can be slippery, especially when wet. Avoid hard acceleration or braking as it can cause skidding. And be aware that there may be a dip, pothole or other road hazard hiding under those leaves covering the road."

Not mentioned by Mr Elstow, but equally as important is packing a winter emergency kit. It is recommended that you should have at least a snow shovel, brushes, a window scraper and matches in your vehicle. After all, you do not want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere when the snow fall starts.

Having the right tyres is also something you should invest in. Properly inflated, high quality winter tires provide the best traction and can even increase fuel efficiency. You should check pressure of your tires regularly, especially before any long distance journeys.

Vauxhall drivers will be pleased to know that you can have your car checked by expertly-trained MasterFit technician before the cold comes.

Their winter care service includes a full safety check, fluids and tyre pressure checks and a winter care pack – containing 500ml bottle of de-icer, a 500ml bottle of screenwash, and an ice scraper. Prices start from £35.

And the last thing you need to do to look after your car (and yourself) this winter is quite simple – drive carefully. Icy roads are one the biggest causes of accidents at this time of year.

Peter Rodger, chief examiner and head of driving standards at the Institute of Advanced Motorists said: "Remember, the speed that you can stop from in a bus length on a dry warm day can take the whole length of a football pitch on ice."

Posted by Mark Henderson 


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