Car Care: Gearing up for the winter months
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The mornings are much cooler, the days are getting shorter and winter-like showers have arrived.
Winter tends to be the most treacherous season to drive in, so now is the time to make sure your vehicle remains up to the task.
Check that lights are working, and lenses are clean, undamaged and free of moisture, to ensure you can see and your vehicle can be seen this winter.
They might not be the most glamorous parts on your car, but the band of rubber that sits around your wheel is what could save your life. It’s critical to check your tyres regularly. Tyre depth is important to maintain traction in adverse winter conditions.While the legal minimum limit is 1.5mm, if your last WoF check revealed that your tyres were close to the limit, then think about replacement.
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).
Comprehensive advice for motorists on how to look after tyres can be found on the AA website.
Moist conditions combined with greasy screens— which are usually caused by people rubbing a fogged up screen clear with their bare hands— often causes visible smearing. Make sure you clean the windscreen and all interior glass properly; remove any grease with detergents or a spirit. Household glass cleaner and newspaper works really well too. Products like Rain-X Anti-Fog and Rain-X Glass Water Repellent are available at aa.co.nz/shop.
Paying a small price to replace your noisy wiper blades can make a huge difference. These often smear the windscreen when it’s raining, making it difficult to see the road clearly. If you have any windscreen damage, get this repaired or replaced as the cold weather could make it worse.
Cold weather service prep
It’s also important to consider the maintenance of your car when preparing for the winter season. Your engine will be enduring colder temperatures and it will experience increased wear. Make sure you get your car serviced, ensuring all your vehicle’s fluids are checked. There are 39 AA Auto Centres and more than 150 AA Approved Repairer sites nationwide. 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.
If you have any doubts about your battery’s performance, we recommend getting it tested and replaced if necessary at your nearest AA Battery stockist.
Drive to the conditions
New Zealand can become incredibly wet during the winter months and it’s important to note that 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 the traction from the tyres. Avoid “jabbing” your 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 have practiced fitting them before your journey. Above all, check to determine if the roads are safe to travel on.