Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Winter checks

This post is a little behind the curve when it comes to those winter checks. Those who were on the ball would have dealt with these important checks part way through the autumn months. Then again with the way the climate is going you could have snow in the middle of summer. So knowing when to do it has become a bit of a guessing game. Let's just say that historically the autumn is the time to do it.

 Things that should be checked:

         Wind screen wipers and screen wash.
         Tyre pressures and tread depth.


The most critical thing you should be checking is the strength of the anti-freeze. Nowadays it is more than an additive that stops the engine freezing, popping a core plug and/or stripping a cambelt. It also stops sludge building up causing blockages and retards corrosion in the engine block.

It is quick and easy to check with an anti-freeze tester.  Which is basically an over grown eye dropper with discs in it. With the cap off the expansion tank you place the tube of the tester into the fluid and draw it up into the clear tube once the flow has stopped and the discs have stabilized into two groups some floating and others sinking you can work out how strong the mix of anti-freeze is. It is far better to have more dices floating, giving you the protection needed nowadays for double minus figures. Over recent years this has become more important with temperatures dropping to an unprecedented minus twenty five degrees centigrade.


Most modern day batteries are sealed and filled with a gel so the main check here is to see if the terminals are clean, tight and not corroded. If they are, you can use boiling hot water to remove it. Be careful using this method and only do one terminal at a time so you do not short the battery out. Once done smear a small amount of petroleum jelly on each terminal to stop the corrosion coming back. If you have the older lead acid batteries that need to be topped up with de-ionized water you are more likely to find the terminals corroded. The same clearing method applies. You will also need to check that the level of the water in the cells is covering the plates, if not they will need topping up with deionized water.

Windscreen Wipers and screen wash.

Windscreen wipers are one of the most neglected items on a vehicle along with tyres. Some people will not replace their wiper blades until they are hanging  off and even then wait till the next service. It beats me how they see out the window to drive in the pouring rain and not hit what is in front of them. The freezing weather destroys the efficiency of your wipers faster than at any other time of the year. When they slide across that ice cover screen it makes minute nicks in the wiping edge. That is if they have remembered to un-stick them from the screen not burning out the wiper motor, it still surprises me how often this happens. You have been warned. When the temperature drops so the strength of the screen wash should go up. This prevents it freezing so you can use it.


What can I say, tyre's are the most neglected safety item on the vehicle! You should check the pressures regularly as the right pressures will save you money on fuel. If the tread depth is down to the wear bars (one point six millimeters  you should replace them as this increases the chances of aqua planning and increases fuel consumption among other things.

If you look after your vehicle it will look after you.