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Preparing your Car for WInter

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Preparing your Car for WInter

Andy Jones
December 8, 2009

Andy Jones

Car servicing in the winter can be very different from summer servicing. Weather extremes are often experienced in the United Kingdom in the winter and that means that your car should be prepared accordingly as prevention is far better than cure. Very low temperatures can sometimes be seen with a record low of -26C recorded in Shropshire, England in 1982. This may surprise you but the record low temperature for July is -6.5C recorded in Norfolk, England in 1962 so don't think that winter weather is confined to the winter months in our strange climate!

Cold temperatures can be the main cause of strain on your car's mechanics. Your battery should be checked before the beginning of winter as it will experience a greater load, caused by using electricity in the darker evenings and mornings. Some jump leads stored in the car is a good idea as your battery can give up at any time. The larger amount of moisture in winter, combined with low temperatures may lead to a small amount of continuous current leak from batteries, and it is worth greasing the terminals and keeping them clean to prevent corrosion. A good service will also check the strength of a battery which needs to be in top condition. A modern calcium silver battery will provide far better cold starting performance than the old lead acid batteries.

Anti-freeze is one of the most important elements of preparing a car for winter. The water in an engine's coolant system may freeze in a very low temperature and this could crack the engine block. Anti-freeze prevents this from happening and is generally mixed in a 50/50 propoertion with de-ionised water. This will protect the engine down to a temperature of -34C, which should prevent any problem during a British winter. Anti-freeze also inhibits engine corrosion and provides water pump lubrication but this effect degrades over time meaning that a standard green anti-freeze should be changed every two years. A newer type of anti-freeze is an orange or red liquid that contains organic acids and should never be mixed with its green counterpart. This sort of anti-freeze will last for a period of up to 5 years.

Tyres are another important aspect to look out for, as wet conditions require greater depth of tread for optimum braking. The minimum legal limit for tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm in the middle three quarters of the tire. Correct tyre pressure is another factor that greatly affects tyre performance and should be checked every couple of weeks. One other thing to remember is to check your spare tyre as this can often be overlooked.

And lastly a good winter service won't overlook your wipers, washers and lights all crucial for your safety in inclement weather and also your MOT.

So whether you have an Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, truck, van or even an HGV make sure your vehicle is prepared for the winter with proper car servicing.

Andy writes for MotorAid, who offer Volkswagen servicing in Essex. Other manufacturers include Audi, Mercedes and BMW. To find out more, visit the website at http://www.motoraiduk.com

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