in association with RAC

Looking After your Car in Cold Weather

08 November 2010

In cold conditions, it’s best to keep your vehicle under cover or in a garage in order to prevent freezing. Battery performance declines dramatically in cold temperatures, so have your battery tested to ensure that it is in good condition and replace it if necessary. Make sure your battery’s terminals are clean and free of corrosion. Since mornings and evenings are darker in winter, always check that your car’s lights are switched off when you park it.

While modern engines and lubricants decrease the stress of starting an engine in cold conditions, it’s a good idea to let your engine idle for a few minutes to allow the oil to reach all the surfaces, and avoid excessive revving before the engine has reached its optimal operating temperature. Make sure that your garage is well ventilated before idling your engine to warm it up, however, or open the garage door.

Don’t use your windscreen washer to clean your windscreen in cold weather, as this can freeze, even if the ambient temperature is above freezing, due to the wind-chill factor. If there is ice on your windscreen, scrape it off before driving, because it can damage your windscreen wiper blades, and purchase a windscreen washer additive with anti-freeze properties. Switch on your demister as soon as your engine warms up, to melt any ice that builds up on the outside. If you have an older vehicle, check your heater and its hoses, as these may leak in cold weather, causing engine failure.