Now that the evenings are drawing in and there's a noticeable drop in temperature, taking a few moments to get your car ready for an Irish Winter is essential. Planning ahead is the name of the game and you will thank yourself that you did so in the future.
Winter tyres may seem extreme, but for rural dwellers they can be a worthwhile investment. They make small work of snow, ice and heavy mud.
Tyres in general do not like the winter months. The roads exert extra punishment on tyres with heavier braking due to rain, ice, slush, snow and more pot-holes to contend with. Debris builds up faster during the winter with the likes of grit, salt, stones and mud reducing traction and increasing wear and tear on tyres.
Check the tyre pressure regularly and ensure it is in line with manufacturers guidelines. The tyre wall should be lined up properly and should be free of bulges. Check for uneven wear and tear as this can be a sign the wheels should be realigned.
Car batteries are affected more-so in the cold winter months. It's advisable to get the battery checked out. Again preparation is key. If the battery is prone to die, it's an idea to keep a pair of jump leads on hand should the battery fail. The best time to check or change your battery is now. The busiest period for battery replacement is Christmas. Do you really want to get out of visiting the relatives that much?
Batteries can lose as much as a third of their power once the temperature hits freezing. Ensure all plugs, posts and cable are secure and there is no corrosion. Next time you book your car in for a car service, have your battery and entire electrics looked over by a professional technician.
Car heaters should be checked to see if they are working. With frosty mornings it's also adviseable to check defrosters and windscreen wipers are working properly. Have your brakes checked and ensure brake fluid is topped up. Icy conditions can make Irish roads treachorous. Don't leave it to chance. Antifreeze or engine coolant should be topped up regularly. Aim to replace the antifreeze every couple of years and use a reliable brand. Coolant should be coloured. Anything from green, red or blue. If it's gone clear, it's time to top it up. If in doubt, chuck it out.
Oil can freeze in extreme temperatures. It's advisable to change your oil to a lower viscosity. Engine fluids in general from brakes through to wipers all suffer in the winter months. Oil should be anything from 10 weight through to 30 weight. If in doubt, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
You can do all the preparation in the world, but sometimes vehicles just don't make it. If you do happen to get stranded, make sure you have enough food, water and keep your phone topped up.
It's an idea to have a car kit with you at all times.