Winter is a time of year we are all immensely grateful for our cars. Winter driving gets us from point A to point B in warmth and comfort. It is reasonable to say that most cars get significantly more usage during the winter months for this reason.
But this increase in usage paired with the harsh weather conditions means that our vehicles go through a large amount of additional strain and stress throughout the months of colder weather. That is why it is so important to take care of our car at this time of year, both to maintain them and make using them as safe as possible.
In this guide, we run through the key areas which should be checked on your car during winter.
The first and most beneficial thing we can be doing for our cars during this harsh time of year is getting a professional to check it over. This can be as simple as booking your vehicle in for a full or interim service at your local garage.
Getting your car booked in for a service before temperatures plummet is a great way to mitigate the risk of anything going wrong at an inopportune moment. In fact, many issues your car will face during winter can be avoided by getting an early service in.
Check your roof
Cabriolet drivers must make additional checks during winter months. As these types of vehicles have more moving parts and structural weaknesses there are additional considerations to take when getting winter ready.
Ensure that you check over your roof for any holes, tears, scratches or gaps that may lead to water leaking into the car. Although this is always an issue in cabriolet vehicles, it is especially important during cold periods as the water can freeze, leading to increased chances for corrosion and mechanical malfunction.
If you are uncertain about the structural integrity of your cabriolet roof have a professional check it over.
Soft top drivers can further mitigate these risks by properly treating and weatherproofing the material of their roof as well as making sure that all seals are kept clean.
Surface water and ice are two of the biggest causes of accidents in winter months. That is why is so important to ensure that your tyres are in a suitable condition for winter driving.
The two areas which need to regularly be checked are the depth and pressure of the tyres. Although legal limits indicate a minimum of 1.6mm of tread, during winter months a minimum tread of 3mm is recommended.
For those winter driving in extra risky weather conditions such as snow or ice we also recommend swapping out your summer tyres for winter tyres, which are specially created for such situations.
As temperatures plummet, the risk of engine coolant freezing can increase. This, in turn, can lead to your engine overheating and ultimately a costly and unnecessary repair bill.
As engine coolant levels drop throughout the year, car owners often top up reserves with water. This can lead to the concentration of anti-freeze being too low to do its job. In this case, adding anti-freeze to the mix is crucial to avoid freezing.
You can buy premixed engine coolant or simply create a 50/50 mix of water to antifreeze and top up your coolant before the cold weather sets in.
Check the battery
Your car battery takes a hammering during winter months. Not only does the cold weather decrease the output, but the increased use of lights and heaters put it under additional strain.
Most batteries need replacing every five years and those that are on the way out will often fail during the winter months. If your car fails to start the likelihood is that your battery has died. Although jump starting may be a short term remedy for a flat battery, getting it regularly checked and replaced when required is the best way to keep your car healthy and mobile.
Some cabriolet roof systems do not react well to jump-starting – for example, the Mercedes R129 model. A failed battery and jump starting can damage the roof ECU. Healthy batteries prevent mid-operation failures. We would always recommend that the engine is running when the roof is being used where possible.
Long journey prep
Longer journeys in winter need careful preparation. This is due to the fact that adverse weather can create difficult winter driving conditions and create unforeseen traffic.
When getting ready for a longer journey ensure you check the travel news and weather forecast as this will give you a good idea as to whether there will be any hold-ups. Also, leave additional time in your journey so that any delays do not cause you to rush and drive unsafely.
Also, pack a car ‘survival pack’ when undertaking longer journeys in winter.
Winter driving survival kit
A car survival kit may seem a little like over-planning. However, by ensuring that you have some essentials on board your vehicle you place yourself in the best position should an emergency occur.
Your car kit should include anything you might need in case your car gets stuck or breaks down. Some items may be a torch, a blanket to keep you warm, a hi-vis vest to make sure you are seen, food and drink, screen wash, a windscreen scraper and suitable footwear should you need to walk to safety.
It is also a good idea to keep your mobile phone fully charged. Also, keep a spare battery pack in case you need to call for assistance.
When the weather is adverse your vision through the windscreen can be impaired. This is incredibly dangerous as it can slow your reaction to hazards on the road. For this reason, it is important to keep your windscreen and wipers clean and in a good condition.
Before setting out make sure that your windscreen and wipers are completely free of any dirt or residue. Also, check that there is not any damage to the wiper blades which may lead to smearing. Finally, ensure that your windscreen wash is kept topped up and treated with antifreeze to stop blockages.
Winter driving can be a lifesaver. However, it is our responsibility to keep our cars in a condition that is fit for use on the roads. Without undertaking the essential maintenance we highlight in this guide you can put you and other road users at risk. Equally, you can incur unneeded repair costs to your vehicle.
See our post on protecting your soft top in winter.
At Cayman Autos we are experienced in helping you make sure your cabriolet is in the best condition for winter. Talented professionals undertake all of our repairs and they come with a 1-year warranty! If you need help looking after your convertible roof, contact us today on 01737 761599. Or visit the shop at 51 Ormside Way Redhill, Surrey RH1 2LG.
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