Winter health checks for your car

Steps you can take to reduce the chance of breaking down

Winter maintenance

During the winter months Britain’s roads become more dangerous as the weather becomes colder and nights are longer. Colder temperatures place additional strain on cars and can escalate existing mechanical issues which increases the number of breakdowns. However, by making a few quick checks you reduce the likelihood of breaking down. 

At bravoauto all our quality assured used cars pass a 150-point health check before being sold, this ensures that any issues which could cause a breakdown are found and resolved. 

External winter checks

Tyres: Tyres are the only part connecting you and your car to the road. Ensuring that tread is above the minimum legal level of 1.6mm (and the advised 3mm in winter), as well inflated to the correct pressure, are all essential to ensure good grip and traction on wintery roads. Tyres should also be free of any damage or bulges to ensure they are safe and reduce the chance of a puncture. 

Wipers: Before driving off ensure that the wipers are not frozen to the windscreen by lifting the wipers from the glass and defrosting the windscreen. This will help prevent damaging the windscreen motors. The wipers should be effective at clearing the windscreen and if they are not, they are probably due replacement. 

Lights: All the external lights on your car are important to ensure you can see and be seen by other road users. Ask someone to sit inside the car operating the lights, indicators, and brake lights whilst you walk around the car to ensure they are all working. Replace any that are not and regularly clean them for maximum performance and safety. 


Winter checks under the bonnet

Battery: During the winter months, the battery is placed under increased strain due to the demands of winter driving such as cold starts, heating, lights and other features being on more. The colder the temperature gets, the slower chemical reactions within the battery take place, which reduces overall performance. Check the car has no battery fault messages when turning the car on and ask a garage to ensure there is at least 75% charge. 

Coolant: Coolant prevents the engine from freezing or overheating. The system is usually sealed and should not need topping up, but it is worth checking the coolant in reservoir is between the min and max markings. If it is not you may need to top it up. The system is usually sealed and should not need topping up. However, it is a good idea to check the coolant is between the min and max in the reservoir.

Screen wash: During the winter, muck from the road is thrown up onto the windscreen, meaning you use the screen wash more. This means it will run out quicker, so regularly check and top up the screen wash level. It is worth not watering down the screen wash as much as you would in the summer to prevent it freezing. 

Oil: Check the oil level using the dipstick and make sure it is between the min and max marks. Not having enough or having too much oil can cause a breakdown or engine failure.