AA CAR CARE: Getting winter ready

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Photo / Supplied

Photo / Supplied

The mornings are much cooler, the days are getting shorter and winter-like showers have arrived.

Winter can be the most treacherous season to drive in, so now’s the time to make sure your vehicle is up to the task.


Check that all lights are working, with clean and undamaged lenses.


Tread depth is important to maintain traction in winter conditions. While the legal minimum limit is 1.5mm, if your last WoF check revealed that your tyres were close to the limit, look at replacement before winter really sets in.

Water is dispersed using the deep channels that run the length of the tyre and the less tread available, the more chance a tyre/vehicle could aquaplane (slide uncontrollably on a wet surface).


Moist conditions combined with greasy screens – which are usually caused by people rubbing a fogged-up screen with bare hands - can hinder visibility.

Clean the windscreen and all interior glass properly, removing grease with detergents. Using a household glass cleaner and newspaper works really well too.

Paying a small price to replace your noisy wiper blades can make a huge difference. These often smear the windscreen when it’s raining. Similarly, if you have windscreen damage, get it repaired or replaced as the cold weather could make it worse, and even damage the rubber on wiper blades.

Cold weather service prep

Consider engine maintenance when preparing for the winter season. It will be enduring colder temperatures and experiencing increased wear.

Get your car serviced, ensuring all fluids are checked, along with things like tyres and wipers.

Fluids can freeze in sub-zero temperatures, so radiator antifreeze concentration will need to be up to scratch. It’s also helpful to add detergent to your windscreen washer reservoir and leave some room so you can top-up with warm water if it freezes overnight.

In cold and wet weather, the battery tends to be pushed to its limit, which can cause it to fail sooner. If you have any doubts about your battery’s performance, get it tested and replaced if necessary.

It’s also worth keeping a set of quality protected jumper cables, in case of a breakdown which could leave you (or someone not as well prepared as you) stuck in sticky situations.

Drive to the conditions

Following distances need to be increased in adverse conditions. You often need to rely on your good judgment as the roads can become slippery, reducing traction from the tyres. This can become particularly dangerous when driving around corners, as well as braking and accelerating.

Take extra care and avoid “jabbing” the brakes, sharp cornering and harsh acceleration.

Going near the snow?

Driving on roads that have experienced snowfall may require you to use snow chains, so ensure you have a set and can fit them before your journey (practise beforehand if needed). There are a few different types and brands available from automotive parts stores. If in doubt, ask your service or supply centre to help with suitability and explain the fitting process.

Use best judgement before heading off on any journey and check to determine if the roads are actually safe to travel on.

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