Car breakdowns are more common at this time of year, especially as weather conditions can produce plenty of challenges for even the most experienced drivers. Aside from affecting the roads, pathways and public transport routes, it’s no secret that snow and freezing temperatures can also affect your car’s condition. We’ve put together some top tips on how motorists can try to avoid breaking down this winter.

Understand your vehicle’s needs

Just like us, vehicles start to suffer when they get left out in the cold. Leaving your car out for a long time in freezing temperatures can have a detrimental effect on the car’s battery and can also cause many elements (such as car lock and doors) to seize up when it gets exceptionally cold and frosty.

If at all possible, keep your vehicle in the garage or at least covered up when it’s not in use.

Battery bother

Battery faults are the main cause of vehicle breakdown. Although batteries can die at any time of the year, they’re more likely to die out in winter when cold temperatures hit.

A battery’s power output drops and their ability to accept a charge also drops, so the battery doesn’t really recharge as quickly when you’re driving. A battery’s load also increases in winter as a car’s electrics are in higher demands (such as lights, blowers, wipers etc).

Luckily, battery problems can be avoided; if you leave your vehicle standing for days at a time then invest in a modern battery charger in order to prolong its life. However, if your car’s battery is more than five years old then you’ll have to get it replaced at your nearest garage, as they rarely last longer than five years.

As well as maintaining your car’s battery, you can:

  • Avoid running electrical systems any longer than necessary, in order to preserve battery power
  • Turn off non-essential electrical loads such as wipers and lights before trying to start the engine
  • Charge the battery overnight to give the battery a chance to revive.

Check your tyres and antifreeze

Keep on top of your antifreeze levels in order to avoid a frozen or cracked engine block, which will cost hundreds of pounds to repair. If your car begins to seriously overheat a few miles from home then it’s likely that the radiator has frozen. Stop the vehicle (in a safe place) straight away to avoid serious damage to the radiator. Call your breakdown provider so that you and your vehicle can be recovered safely.

Before setting off, make sure each tyre has a 3mm tread. Consider changing to winter tyres if your haven’t already.

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