Car Care: Safety first during winter snap

AA Motoring
  • Sign in required

    Please sign in to your account to add a vehicle to favourite

  • Share this article

Photo / Duncan Brown

Photo / Duncan Brown

As winter takes hold over the country, we all need to keep an eye on vehicle maintenance, as well as our driving. For some of us, this is when our winter wonderland holidays begin and whichever mountain you decide to attack, getting there safely should be your priority.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you have a higher risk of crashing when your vision is impaired. Moist conditions combined with greasy screens — which are usually caused by people rubbing a fogged up screen clear with their bare hands — can cause smearing over the screen in certain light conditions.

Make sure you clean your screen and all interior glass properly with an automotive glass cleaner.

Got a set of worn wiper blades leaving streaks all over your windscreen? Buy a set of new wipers, and while you’re at it, ensure your wiper reservoir is full. Maintenance

Breaking down on a cold winter night is not a pleasant experience, so getting a pre-winter vehicle service can save you a big breakdown headache.

Your engine endures colder temperatures in winter and in turn, experiences increased wear. Fluids have the ability to 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. Leave some room so you can top it up with warm water if it freezes overnight. 

To help reduce the risk of your tyres losing traction on the road, check that your tread is at least 1.5mm deep and that you have correct and equal tyre pressure in all your tyres.

In the cold, wet weather your battery tends to be pushed to its limit, which can cause it to fail earlier than expected. If you have any doubts about your battery’s performance, we recommend getting 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 get you — or someone not as prepared as you — out of a sticky situation.

Headlights and tail lights
The days are shorter and the weather is worse during the winter months, so it’s essential to regularly walk around your car to check all of its lights are working.

Fully functioning lights not only help your own visibility while driving, but also ensure other drivers are able to see you.

Winter emergency kit
It may seem a bit extreme in some parts of New Zealand but carrying an emergency kit will put your mind at ease. In case of a breakdown or emergency, keep a supply kit in the boot containing a blanket, spare warm clothes, torch with batteries, first aid kit, a hi-vis jacket and some spare food and water.

Keep up to date with DRIVEN Car Guide

Sign up for the latest news, reviews, our favourite cars and more.

By signing up for this newsletter, you agree to NZME's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.