Car Maintenance Tips

Winter Maintenance Tips

There are many simple things you can do yourself to prepare your car for winter. Here’s a few suggestions from RAA’s Technical Advisory Service.

  • Look after your battery: Breakdown calls to RAA increase by more than 50 per cent in cold and wet weather, with nearly 40 per cent of all calls being for battery and electrical-related problems. If you take a bit of time to care for your battery though, you should be able to avoid an annoying breakdown. Top up your battery with distilled water regularly, so the cells don’t dry out. Remember don’t use tap water! Any corrosion, which looks like white or green fungus, around the terminals should be wiped away. If it’s too thick to be removed easily, check the kitchen cupboard for some bicarbonate of soda. Make a paste of this by adding some water, then brush it onto the terminals and rinse off with hot water. If that doesn’t work, it might be time to invest in a set of new terminals. Make sure you don’t do any of this work on the lawn or in your driveway. The acid will kill the lawn or leave white stains on the cement.
  • Tyre pressure: All tyres, including the spare, should be inflated to the correct pressure. Incorrectly inflated tyres limit your car’s braking efficiency and its overall handling. Under inflated tyres are dangerous. If you’re not sure of correct tyre pressure, look in the car owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s specifications
  • Tyre safety: On wet, slippery roads, your tyres are especially important for keeping you safe – after all, they are all that’s between you and the road. You must have a minimum of 2mm of tread over the entire tread area (which is roughly equal to the depth on a match head – use this to check if your tread is adequate). Make sure you examine all the tyres, including the spare, for adequate tread and, if any are worn to the limit, don’t hesitate to replace them.
  • Windscreen: Keep your windscreen clean during the cooler weather. Dirt on the windscreen can limit your visibility when driving towards a low sun. For maximum visibility, windows should be cleaned regularly with either a chamois or a sheet of newspaper with methylated spirits.
  • Windscreen wipers: Once the winter rains begin, it’s important your wipers are up to the job. If they are perished or cracked they’ll be unable to wipe the glass effectively, causing streaks, smearing and loss of visibility. Replace the wiper rubbers when the blades fail to wipe clean the windshield or ‘chatter’ across the glass. When you wash your car, lift the blade from the screen, rinse with clean water and look for evidence of deterioration. Check the reservoir bottle has a sufficient fluid level.
  • Garage your car if possible: Try to park your vehicle under cover at night and try to avoid parking your car on the lawn overnight as damp rising from the lawn condenses on engine and ignition parts leading to current leakage. Condensation forming on the underside of the bonnet can lead to rust development.
  • Lights and gauges: Check that all lights are working – including indicators. Make sure your indicator gauges are working properly.
  • Service your car regularly: Ensure your vehicle is running as it should by having it serviced professionally at regular intervals. The RAA recommends using an RAA Approved Repairer. Click here to locate an Approved Repairer in your local area.

Click here to download RAA's fact sheet on preparing your car for a driving holiday.

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