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Essential Car Care Tips You Need to Know for Winter

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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 January 13, 2022

    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

    A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

    To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

    1. Camping

    A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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    2. Staycation

    You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

    3. Island Getaway

    People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

    4. Fancy Resort

    Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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    5. Road Trip

    The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

    6. Charter a Boat

    If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

    7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

    If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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    8. Themed Retreats

    There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

    9. Working Honeymoon

    Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

    10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

    Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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    Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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