Now the weather has turned, you’ve probably got all the blankets out, filled your cupboards with hot chocolate and dug out all those festive jumpers, but have you thought about your car this winter?
The cold weather is a pain in the arse for cars, and that’s putting it lightly. It starts to kill your car batteries, often leaving you sat outside work or the shopping centre with a boot full of Christmas shopping – just what you need.. not! It’s quite easy to forget to properly look after your car in winter so these are my top tips to keep it running.
Have your battery tested in your local garage
Your garage will be able to check your battery and make sure it is in good order for the winter period. This will give you a chance to avoid the possibility of a breakdown, and sort it beforehand rather than leave it until it’s too late! Where I work (Treeton Auto Services in Rotherham, if you’re all wondering. Free promo and all that, you’re welcome, Dad) we can test your battery free of charge and run you a print out so you know you’re going to be good this winter.
Make sure you’ve got Breakdown cover
Now, this may be quite an obvious one but it’s mostly the one that catches everyone out. A lot of people who take out cover back away from the option of ‘Homestart’ which means if you break down at home they can’t come out to you. This is quite important as when it’s cold and it comes to starting your vehicle up to get to to work, if the battery has died of death and it’s refusing to start, you’re goosed. If you’ve got a friend with a set of Jump Leads then they may be able to get you started, but worse case scenario is that you’ll have to call out recovery.. then you’ll be wishing you added homestart to your policy!
AA BRC Cover
Something else that I would always recommend is a type of the cover that the AA offer which is Breakdown Repair Cover (BRC). In order to take this out, you have to have at least the basic breakdown cover with the AA. The cost of this cover is varied with each vehicle depending on age and the mileage of the vehicle, but for example my 14 plate Peugeot 208 with 20,000 miles on the clock, cost me only £29 to cover for 6 months working out at just £58 for the whole year! Now, what’s great about this cover is that the AA warranty team are really good at accepting claims, unlike a lot of other warranties that try to worm out of paying.
The BRC cover means that if something causes you to call the AA out (ie: your car won’t start, it’s making a funny noise, the vehicle cut out etc) as long as the problem isn’t wear and tear (for example worn out brakes) then the AA will pay up to £500 of your invoice, all you have to pay is your £35 excess if the invoice doesn’t exceed £500! This will cover you for up to 5 claims per year, which means they could cover a maximum of £2500 per annum. This is great for covering parts such as your battery, alternator or starter motor in winter which can be a couple of hundred pounds.. ouch.
Breakdown Care Kit
This is something I’m currently in the process of putting together, but I feel it’s something everyone needs to have in their car, especially during winter. It suddenly occurred to me as I was driving down the A1 the other morning, that in the event of a breakdown I would be stuck at the side of a very busy road, stood in the freezing cold whilst it possibly snowed, or absolutely chucked it down as it tends to do in the UK. At that very moment when it dawned on me that it was zero degrees outside and I didn’t even have a coat on me, I decided I needed to fully kit out my car.. and so it began.
- A waterproof jacket
- A coat
- A blanket
- Ice scraper
- Important breakdown number
- First Aid Kit
Check your tyres
This point is really important, especially when it’s icy or snowy conditions on the roads. If you’re tyres have good tread depth and the correct pressures, it’s going to be much easier for your tyres to grip to the road making your journeys much safer. When your tyres are bald, this essentially means your tyres will just slide all over the road which is very dangerous. Make sure you’re checking your tyre pressures on a regular basis, and again if you’re not confident in doing so, don’t be afraid to pop down to your local garage and ask for some help. They can make sure your tyres are safe to be driving on this winter!
Remember: keeping your car safe means keeping you and other road users safe!