Tag Archive | "winter car check"

Winter Draws On. Again.

Yes folks, it’s that time of year again. As Autumn drags us kicking and screaming into the dark, dank days of Winter it is time for our annual reminder to look to your car. Breaking down is never nice but when it’s freezing cold or pouring with rain it is much, much worse.

Your trusty motor has given you good service over the Summer months. It has taken you for seaside daytrips and on away days to theme parks and to see dull relatives. It may have taken you on holiday at home or abroad and throughout this it has never complained.

Nevertheless, by now it will need some TLC. In the same way that a meat pie satisfies when we’re hungry and cold so a bit of lubrication and a coat of wax will rejuvenate your car and make it ready for the extremes of Winter.

Check that anti-freeze for a start. Is the coolant up to snuff? When we get a cold we take a paracetemol. For a car a freeze-up can cause a lot more damage. This is why the oil should be checked and even changed and the other vital fluids topped up as appropriate. Same goes for the battery – they can die on you suddenly; often at the worst time.

Your tyres should have 3mm of tread at a very bare minimum to gain any kind of traction, especially if you’re not going to buy an all-weather or winter set. Check the pressures to make sure they are adequate at least every two weeks. Maybe some temporary tyre snow socks in the boot wouldn’t hurt for emergencies along with a blanket and some other emergency aids?

Give the car a very good clean and apply a decent coat of wax or polish. There’s some good stuff on the market these days so a session now and another on a half-way decent day mid-Winter should do the trick.

There is not really any excuse. If in doubt many garages offer free Winter health checks for your car. Obviously they want to get some business out of it but if it really is not possible to get some good DIY action going then at least you can be sure the car is safe. That’s the important thing.

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Don’t Panic – It Might Snow.

At the time of writing this it is early January 2013. The weather in England has been relatively mild and benign (Scotland haven’t fared quite so well but, hey, they wanted independence). Unfortunately for us, we are told – and by the time you read this you may already know – that the weather is going to become much colder and there is a chance of…snow!

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that in a mixed climate like ours we’d be used to bad weather. Sadly this never seems to be the case. As soon as that attractive blonde lady on TV mentions the dreaded S word, the floodgates of doom open and a torrent of dire warnings is spread across all media. That which cannot be named causes national anxiety just at its mention.

In 21st Century Britain, it takes only a few centimetres of s**w to bring everything to a grinding halt. Trains are frozen to the lines and passengers have to route march down the side of the track; shops run out of stock, the Prime Minister flies to Chamonix for a little light skiing, cars freeze up for want of servicing and the rest of us manage as best we can.

Meanwhile, again at the time of writing, whilst we are all looking fearfully out of the window at the sky, some 20,000 people have driven through s**w to a remote ski-jumping location in Zakopane, Poland for an event that always turns into a party. Scandinavians – who have a penchant for running naked into the white stuff and beating themselves with birch twigs – laugh in the face of ten foot drifts and, although they also suffer disruption, cope better with the problems than we do.

This is primarily because, like boy scouts, they are better prepared. We have a history in this country of not being prepared, well, for anything really because preparedness costs money. Everything in the UK comes down to a cost benefit analysis. This is probably because our weather is never that bad, but things can change as the many people who have been flooded in the last six months will be pleased to tell you.

So if nothing is to be done and you are basically on your own then it’s time for a bit of self-reliance. Many European countries (but not Belgium who are as bad as we are) now require drivers to fit winter tyres from a given date. This is a cost to drivers unquestionably, but these tyres have a proven benefit when the white precipitation comes. At the very least motorists should carry s**w chains or the cheaper s**w boots for emergency use. It is also essential to ensure that the coolant is correctly topped up to avoid freezing. Some people go as far as to carry a safety kit in case they become stranded. It’s a thought, especially if kids are involved.

So when the weather forecasters predict the worst and the more excitable newspapers tell us about the impending disaster that’s about to unfold remember the words of the immortal Corporal Jones – ‘Don’t panic!’

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