As the end of the year approaches, it’s easy to get distracted by thoughts of Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas, as the earlier sunsets eat into the amount of daylight we’ve all got available in which to get things done.
But one thing that should not be neglected is your car – and some simple preparation work in the warmer and lighter days of autumn can help to reduce the risk of a dark, cold roadside breakdown in the winter.
Here are ten things to think about when getting the car ready for autumn.
1. ‘Top up’ the antifreeze
Make sure the right amount of antifreeze is added to your car’s coolant, especially when the Arctic blasts of winter start to set in – the exact ratio depends on your vehicle so make sure you get it right.
2. Tread depth
Check your tyre tread depth and consider investing in new tyres even if they’re not yet illegal. Newer, deeper tread gives more grip on icy roads, so if you’ll be driving a lot this winter, it could be worth it.
3. Tyre condition
They’re your only point of contact with the road, so it’s worth mentioning them twice. Don’t just check your tread – check the side walls for any distortion, splits, cracks and bulges, as cold rubber is less flexible and more prone to a blow-out.
4. Battery charge
Does your car battery hold charge even in cold weather? Do you ever have to turn the engine over several times before it starts? Think about replacing the battery, especially if it’s older than about five years.
5. Oil change
The autumn is a good time to think about replacing your engine oil – and if you do, consider using a thinner oil that will keep flowing freely even if it thickens in freezing conditions.
6. Paintwork protection
Grit and salt on icy roads can damage paintwork and lead to rusty bodywork. Consider XPEL Paint Protection, which has no visual effect on your paintwork but gives it a coat of armour against the harshest winter conditions.
7. Interior aircon
Check your aircon, including the heating system’s ability in cold weather, and the vents’ ability to clear a steamed-up or frosty window – you might have to wait for a cold day for this, but make it a priority.
8. Air filters
Check the air intake filters not just in the autumn, but throughout the winter months to make sure they haven’t sucked in any salt, dirt from snow and road slush, or anything else the season throws your way.
9. Fan belt
Old fan belts can slip, causing that familiar squealing sound from cars that are not well maintained, so get yours checked and replaced if necessary.
10. Windscreen wipers
A clear windscreen is essential in poor visibility, so check your demisters on the inside, your rear window heater and all of your wipers – both their speed and functionality, and the condition of the blades. Finally, top up your washer bottles with fresh, clean water and the right amount of windscreen wash fluid.