It’s time to make sure you clear the cobwebs from your de-icer and ready-mixed washer fluid – get your vehicle up to scratch for the cold weather that we’re currently experiencing.
To help you with this, Tim Shallcross, IAM RoadSmart’s head of technical policy, has put together his Top 5 Tips to stop your car from giving you a fright this Halloween:
Top 5 Tips to stop your car from giving you a fright this Halloween
Winter car preparation tip 1 – Inside job
Months of air-con and dust builds up a layer of grime on the inside of the windscreen so spend a couple of minutes getting it squeaky clean, using a window cleaning fluid or a microfiber cloth. A clean surface will stop glare from the low autumn sun and greatly reduce the likelihood of the screen misting up.
Carefully clean the rear screen so that you don’t damage the heater elements and you’ll save having to put the heated rear window on so much, which can cost two or three mpg while it’s on.
Winter car preparation tip 2 – Windscreen wipers
If you get that dreaded squeaking noise, it’s time to change the wiper blades. When the new blades sweep the screen in efficient, rain clearing silence, you’ll be thankful that you did.
On icy days, check that your wipers are not frozen to the glass as trying to get them moving can blow a fuse or damage the motors. The same problem can affect electric wing mirrors; if very low temperatures are expected, don’t fold them in the night before.
Winter car preparation tip 3 – Washer bottle
Ready-mixed washer fluid can cost around £5 for five litres – or even more at motorway service areas – and most of it is just tap water. Many supermarkets sell concentrated fluid that you can dilute to make at least 20 litres for less money.
Alternatively shop online, but don’t be tempted by hi-tech sounding premium priced products or the very expensive “specially developed” for a certain make of car. On cold days, don’t use the washers until you feel warm air coming out of the heater, or the spray may freeze on your windscreen leaving you driving blind.
Winter car preparation tip 4 – Frost and ice
If there’s no windscreen defrost function in your car, buy a custom-made ice blanket or cover the screen the night before with a sheet. Don’t use newspapers for this task as they tend to disintegrate into a soggy mush.
Invest in a good quality ice scraper and a few tins of de-icing spray and give yourself extra time to get the car ready to go. Clear the whole screen (not just in part), remembering that a badly cleared screen is dangerous and it is also an offence; three points and a substantial fine can be the reward for skimping.
While you scrape and spray you can have the engine running with the heater set to maximum demist. But cars are at their most polluting and wasteful when cold, so you won’t be doing the environment or your wallet any good. As soon as the windows are clear, drive off.
It is illegal to leave a car running unattended as well as being a huge temptation for thieves. Most insurance companies may not pay out if you make it easy for someone to steal your vehicle.
Winter car preparation tip 5 – Damp
Clear damp or snowy boots and coats out of the car when you get home – if you leave them in overnight the water will evaporate and condense on the inside of all the windows.
It will take a long time to clear and the car will feel damp for your morning commute. Even leaving them in the boot will make the windows wet and foggy, so get them indoors where they’ll dry out properly.
Remember to drive carefully and adapt your driving style to suit weather conditions and situations on the road. If you’d like to learn about the skills and techniques needed to become an advanced driver, take a look at IAM RoadSmart’s advanced driving course.