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Essential Car Care Tips You Need to Know for Winter

Essential Car Care Tips You Need to Know for Winter

According to a study by AXA Insurance, each year drivers in the UK remain unprepared for winter weather, despite regular warnings of approaching cold conditions.

“Winter weather consistently causes serious problems in the UK, but our research shows that drivers are still being complacent. Winter has a massive impact on road safety, and it’s not just snow that causes problems — ice and fog also make the roads more dangerous.”

Maxine Tighe, Head of Motor Claims at AXA Insurance

So consider this your official warning; winter is coming.

With winter fast approaching, it’s essential to ensure that you take the necessary precautions to look after your car. These winter car care tips below will help you prepare for the colder months ahead…

5 Essential Winter Checks for Your Car:

1. Brakes

The average braking distance for a car driving at 30 mph is 14 metres. This is doubled in wet conditions, and can be up to 10 times further when driving in snow.

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Get your brakes checked and make sure they’re in good working condition.

2. Battery

During the colder months you tend to put more pressure on your battery through extended use of heaters, wipers and lights. Check your battery’s terminals are secure and free from corrosion.

“Cold temperatures affect the chemical process inside the battery that produces and stores electricity, effectively slowing it down and reducing the battery’s ability to hold the charge. Older, weaker batteries will typically already have reduced performance and cold temperatures will often drastically reduce this further, to the point where the battery will discharge or go flat very quickly.” – RAC

Top Tip: If your battery is more than five years old, or has shown signs of struggling to start the car, get it replaced.

3. Radiator

Radiator fluid acts as a coolant during summer, and as anti-freeze in the winter. You car’s radiator should contain a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze. Check your levels and ensure you have the right mix.

4. Lights & Visibility

Check all of your lights and replace any that are not working. Make sure they are clean. Tarnished lights can be brightened up with toothpaste.

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Now is also the time to check your wiper blades. If they do not clear the windscreen effectively in the rain (leaving large smears that obstruct your view), they won’t be effective at tackling snow.

5. Tyres (including your spare!)

The legal minimum tyre tread in the UK is 1.6 mm, but the AA recommend having a thicker tread of 2 – 3 mm in Winter, as this allows for better control in wet and icy conditions.

Changes in temperature can lead to decompression in your tyres, so be sure to check them regularly.

Tips for Defrosting Your Car

Frozen Car

    Image courtesy of Erik via Flickr

    6. Remove all loose snow and/or ice

    Did you know it’s an actually an offence to drive with loose ice and snow still on your car? That pile of snow on your roof could easily slip and block your view, causing an accident.

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    It is also an offence to drive with an obscured registration plate, so be sure to remove all snow from your plates too.

    7. Check your exhaust pipe

    Check your exhaust pipe isn’t blocked with snow or ice. This makes it harder for the car to start and could cause toxic fumes to leak into the interior of the car.

    8. Unfreeze car locks and doors

    If your lock is frozen, use a lighter for 15 seconds to heat up your key before you insert it into the lock.

    Open frozen doors by using lukewarm (not hot) water to melt the ice.

    9. Defrosting windows

    Turn on the defrost option and set it to the highest heat on a low speed. (Higher speeds actually fan our colder air.) Once the ice begins to melt, use an ice scraper to remove the ice. You can use a de-icer to speed up the process.

    NEVER use hot water to melt ice on your windows. This can cause the glass to shatter.

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    10. Defogging windows

    To defog your car’s windows you need to do two things:

    • Increase the temperature of the glass
    • Reduce the water content of the air

    The easiest and quickest way to do this is to open a window, select the defog/demist function and place on high heat, and turn on the AC (the AC also serves as a dehumidifier).

    Speed up defrosting the night before…

    • Stop doors freezing shut by applying a thin layer of Vaseline to the rubber door seals.
    • A squirt of WD-40 in locks will help stop them for freezing.
    • Raise your wipers off the windscreen to prevent them from freezing and sticking to your window.
    • Fill a stocking or sock with cat litter to prevent foggy windows. This works by absorbing excess moisture in the air.
    • Use a car cover.
    • Keep an eye on where the sun rises in the morning. Park your car to face the sun for natural defrosting!

    Winter Car Essentials

    With experience in getting stuck in winter traffic with no water, blanket or supplies, Gary Hodder from BestCarFinder can’t emphasise enough the importance of being prepared.

    Buy a Winter Emergency Kit (or create your own) which contains these essentials:

    • Ice scraper
    • Anti-freeze
    • Thermal blankets (sleeping bags also work well)
    • Snow shovel
    • Torch (and extra batteries)
    • Jump leads and tow rope
    • Bottled water and non-perishable snacks
    • Thermos flask with hot water
    • High visibility jacket
    • Phone (and in-car phone charger)
    • Reflective safety triangle
    • Extra set of clothes
    • First aid kit

    It may seem like a lot, but if you happen to break down or have to pull over in a snow storm, you’ll be thankful for these items!

    Featured photo credit: First snow of winter via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

    So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

    1. Exercise

    It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

    2. Drink in Moderation

    I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

    3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

    Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

    4. Watch Less Television

    A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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    Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

    5. Eat Less Red Meat

    Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

    If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

    6. Don’t Smoke

    This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

    7. Socialize

    Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

    8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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    9. Be Optimistic

    Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

    10. Own a Pet

    Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

    11. Drink Coffee

    Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

    12. Eat Less

    Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

    13. Meditate

    Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

    Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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    How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

    14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

    15. Laugh Often

    Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

    16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

    Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

    17. Cook Your Own Food

    When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

    Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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    18. Eat Mushrooms

    Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

    19. Floss

    Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

    20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

    Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

    Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

    21. Have Sex

    Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

    More Health Tips

    Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

    Reference

    [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
    [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
    [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
    [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
    [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
    [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
    [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
    [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
    [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
    [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
    [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
    [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
    [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
    [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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