13th October 2021

With autumn already upon us and winter just around the corner, now is the time to ensure your car is ready for the cold weather.

With rapidly falling temperatures, fewer daylight hours, and poorer weather, the arrival of winter usually brings with it an increase in breakdowns, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to ensure your motor is prepared. Here are our top tips for getting your car through to spring.

Check your battery

Car batteries have a life expectancy of approximately five years, which is why most manufacturers recommend getting yours checked at least twice a year.

If you haven’t had yours looked at for a while, do it before winter arrives – in addition to the risk posed by the cold weather, you’ll most likely be using your lights and heater more than usual, putting more strain on the battery than it’s accustomed to. And the last thing you want is to find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere in freezing temperatures.

If your car has problems starting, get the battery checked as soon as possible and replaced if necessary. You could also teach yourself how to jump-start your car here.

Check your tyres

It’s obviously important to keep your tyres in good condition all year round but, as they’re responsible for both braking and steering, ensuring you have reliable tyres over the wet and icy winter months should be top of your to-do list.

Although the legal minimum depth of tread is 1.6mm, your tyres should have a minimum depth of 3mm over winter to improve their grip on potentially slippery surfaces. You could even swap your tyres for winter tyres, which improve braking, traction, and grip at any temperature below 7℃.

Top up your antifreeze

Adding antifreeze to your engine coolant over winter is vital to protect your car’s engine and it’s also important to get the mix right – you’re looking for a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze.

Once you’ve topped up, remember to keep checking it as the antifreeze will become diluted over time. If it becomes over-diluted, it runs the risk of freezing during particularly cold weather, causing the engine to overheat and leaving you with an untimely repair bill. And remember to keep spare antifreeze in your car at all times!

Take your car for a service

If your car needs servicing, it’s a good idea to get it done before winter – cold weather can cause all sorts of problems but many of them can be prevented with a preemptive maintenance check. Some garages even offer discounted winter car checks.

What you’re after here is a mechanic to take a look at your tyres, battery, wipers, brake pads, lights, and oil.

Keep a winter kit in your car at all times

The only thing predictable about winter weather is how unpredictable it can be, so it’s important to prepare for every eventuality.

Every car should have a winter kit that includes:

  • a scraper
  • de-icer
  • a shovel
  • a blanket
  • a hi-visibility vest
  • food and drink
  • sat-nav and a map or atlas
  • a torch
  • spare batteries
  • a mobile phone and phone charger
  • snow grips in case you need to walk to safety
  • screenwash
  • antifreeze


In addition, it’s also worth checking your oil before setting off anywhere and remembering to fill your tank up with petrol once you get down to a quarter tank of fuel in case of unexpected delays.

Clean your lights

With the nights drawing in, you need your car’s lights, indicators, and rear reflectors to be as effective as possible, so carrying out regular maintenance on them is imperative. Make sure you don’t have any blown bulbs or cracked lenses and remember to check your full-beam headlights and fog lights too.

Prepare for your journey in advance

Even if you’re not travelling far, preparing in advance will help you arrive safely at your destination. Check the weather forecast and travel news and, if you have one, use a sat-nav device to find the safest route. If the forecast looks bad and your journey isn’t essential, the safest option is to not travel – always drive according to the road and weather conditions.

It’s also a good idea to allow yourself extra time so you can drive slowly when necessary.

Need a hand getting your car winter-ready?

At First Defence Finance, our Personal Loans can help ensure you and your car have everything you need to make it safely through winter. Apply for yours here.

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