Winter is no longer coming, it’s here! The temperatures have dropped dramatically across the country and the cold has settled in. While South African winters are not prone to blizzard-like conditions, it has been known to snow in some of the most unlikely places – Table Mountain even got snow recently. So, it is wise to prepare. We prepare our houses by checking the roof for leaks, make sure there is insulation, and seal the doors and windows to keep the draughts out. We prepare ourselves by buying warm winter jerseys and coats, take extra vitamins to stave off the usual winter colds, flu jabs, and we batten down the hatches and stay indoors where it’s warm.
Like us, our cars are not huge fans of the cold. They need a little extra care and attention too in order to run at their optimum capacity. Here are ten little tweaks you can make that will make your winter driving much more pleasurable and will make your car run much more efficiently.
1. Tread lightly
Check your tyre tread. This is a basic common sense piece of advice, but it is also absolutely essential. Worn tread is very dangerous on wet roads and in high-lying places where now is prevalent worn tread doesn’t give you any grip on the roads. While you’re at it, check your tyre pressure too.
2. Light it up
Dark mornings, early sunset and driving rain all compromise your visibility when driving. You need to be seen in winter so check your headlights, fog lights and your indicators.
3. Wipe it away
It sounds like such a basic thing, but keep your wiper fluid topped up. A spell of dry weather: your car gets a bit dirty, your windscreen particularly. Then it starts to rain, but ever so lightly. You turn your wipers on and all that dirt is smeared across your windscreen – it’s a total mess.
4. Cracking up
Check your windscreen for any cracks or chips. While most of us would be tempted to leave minor windscreen damage, this is a very bad idea in the winter. The colder temperatures can cause the existing weak spots to spread and even shatter.
5. The early bird catches the worm
In the summer, you literally jump in your car and go. But in winter things take a little longer. The demister needs time and so does the heating. Your engine will also thank you for giving it a little time to run before setting off. So remember to set your alarm an extra 15 minutes early to give your car that little bit of time it needs.
6. Check your oil
There’s no clever way to say this, and while it seems like a very basic check, even one that might not need mentioning, you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this at the start of the winter. If your oil levels are low, or the oil you have is thick and sludgy, your car won’t run well. The additional strain of the cold temperatures means that you are in for a bumpy ride.
7. Charging on all cylinders
Check your battery. This is a very easy thing to do – there are battery fitment centres everywhere. Winter is not the time to find yourself stranded, in the freezing cold and pouring rain, with a flat battery.
8. Always be prepared
Pack a winter emergency kit in your car. You never know when you might have a flat battery, tyre or other issues that leave you stranded on the side of the road. Essential items to consider are:
- Drinking water
- Dry snacks
- First aid kit
9. Wipe it all away
Like the oil and battery, windscreen wipers are a pretty basic thing to check when winter starts, but again is one of those things we don’t notice until we have a problem. Check your blades are in good condition BEFORE the first torrential downpour, rather than discover they need replacing right in the middle of it.
In many parts of the country, overnight winter temperatures reach well below freezing. As water freezes at 0°, it stands to reason that the water inside the car might freeze too. But this is easily avoided by the addition of a little antifreeze into the radiator. It’s also a good idea to premix a solution of water and antifreeze for when you get caught short.
So, as you can see, keeping your car running in tip-top condition during the winter is neither hard nor expensive. But failure to do so can be very costly, not to mention dangerous in some instances, and extremely inconvenient. For more information about car care tips, contact your local Group 1 Hyundai dealer.