How to prepare your car for winter

The winter months are particularly harsh on vehicles. Temperatures drop and road conditions worsen making your daily commute a whole lot more challenging. If you want to ensure the safety of yourself and other road users during winter then it’s vital that you prepare your vehicle at the start of winter, and check it regularly throughout the cold season.

Prevent major engine problems with antifreeze

During a cold snap you might find that the radiator coolant freezes, preventing it from doing its job properly. When you start the engine, listen out for a continuous squealing noise – this is the fan belt slipping on the pulley and is a sign that the water pump is frozen. If this happens, turn off your engine and allow it to thaw out.


If your engine starts up ok without any warning signs you might think you’re out of the woods. However, keep an eye on the temperature gauge as you’re driving. If your car begins to overheat after just a few miles this usually indicates that the coolant has frozen and isn’t circulating around the radiator.

  • Antifreeze costs a few pounds and will help to prevent a frozen and cracked engine block that would cost hundreds of pounds to repair.
  • Make sure you use the right type of antifreeze for your car; many modern cars use a long-life type, so check your vehicle handbook for information.
  • A 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water during the winter will give your vehicle maximum protection down to -34°C.

Protect your vehicle’s life source: the battery

Your car relies on its battery to keep it running, and during the winter extra constraints are placed on the batteries. As the nights start to draw in and the sun rises later, you’ll need to use your headlights for both your morning and evening commute. Not to mention the increased use of your car’s heater when the temperature drops.


Most car batteries have about five years of life in them, so replacing the battery as it nears the end of its life can help to prevent the inconvenience of breakdowns and non-starts. The last thing you want when it’s cold and dark outside is to find yourself stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.

  • Try to avoid running your car’s electrical systems for longer than necessary. For example once it has heated up turn the blowers down low, and remember to switch off the rear window heater once the windows are clear.
  • If your car struggles to start on a cold morning, turn the starter over in five second bursts, leaving 30 seconds between attempts in order to give the battery time to recover.
  • Make sure you carry jump leads in your boot in case you are caught short with a dead battery and need to jump it back into life.

Look after your car’s tyres

Your four tyres are the only contact your car has with the road, and each one covers an area about the size of your hand. Worn or bald tyres are dangerous at the best of times, but when you throw ice, rain, and snow into the mix they can become deadly.


Unless you live in an isolated area that gets hit with particularly heavy snow then you shouldn’t need snow chains, but at the very least you should ensure that your tyres are in the best possible condition to keep you safe on the roads during poor weather.

  • For winter motoring your tyres should have a tread depth of at least 3mm in order to provide maximum traction with potentially slippery road surfaces.
  • If you’re concerned about safety during the winter perhaps consider changing to winter or all season tyres – their higher silica content prevents them from hardening in colder temperatures, therefore providing better grip when the roads are cold and wet.

If you don’t think your car will see it safely through winter then why not give us a call for a free quote today – we’ll buy any car less than ten years old, no matter what condition it is in!