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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 December 13, 2018

    12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

    12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

    Christmas is approaching fast, and lots of people not only tend to ruin their usual diets, but they also gain a few extra pounds. Based on studies, the majority of people tend to gain additional weight during the holiday season that starts at the Thanksgiving Day and ends with the New Year celebrations. Excessive eating is claimed to be the main cause for the additional weight gain, but it is also due to lack of physical activity and exercise.

    A lot of individuals out there tend to set aside their fitness routines during the holidays since they believe that they do not have enough time to perform their workouts. And because they feel guilty after the holiday season, most of the gyms and fitness centers are packed with fresh members. Always bear in mind that you can still enjoy the holidays and stay fit at the same time. If you want to stay fit during the holiday season, especially during Christmas and the New Year’s Eve, here are some useful tips that might help you:

    1. Eat Before Heading Out

    First, it is best that you eat something before heading out to visits, trips or family dinners. By doing so, you will no longer be tempted to eat a lot or overindulge yourself since you have already eaten. Skipping on meals is not a good idea either, because you will only be forced to eat more later.

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    2. Select The Treats

    Make sure to select the treats that you eat in a wise manner. You should choose something that you can only enjoy during the holiday season and not something that is readily available all the time.

    3. Avoid Skipping Meals

    Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! Even though it can be tempting to skip on certain meals, believing that it will make up for the treats you consumed in the previous day, don’t do it because it will only lead to counterproductive results.

    4. Drink With Moderation

    It is best to regulate your drinking since alcohol, coke or other juices will only add more calories to the ones you already eaten!

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    5. Be Active

    You should still perform your fitness routine whenever possible and if you can’t do that, simply walk more, park your car some distance away from the store or just use the stairs!

    6. Get Out Of The House

    Make the holidays a family affair and plan outdoor activities where everyone is involved. Even a snowball fight in the backyard will burn a lot of calories and will keep the children entertained.

    7. Don’t Skip Your Strength Workouts

    Always remember to perform your strength training in order to maintain that muscle mass you worked hard to get. You might be tempted to use lightweights and just do some cardio, but you can burn just as many calories by lifting weights. And with all of those extra stakes you had on the holiday meals, you might even gain some extra muscle. And this is much better than gaining some extra fat.

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    8. Set Realistic Goals

    You should set realistic exercise objectives. Aim for at least half an hour per day and you will be very happy when you will achieve that. If you plan one hour or more and not achieve it, you will only end up disappointed.

    9. Enjoy Yourself

    Also make sure to set realistic diet plans! Trying to restrain yourself totally from some foods will only make you eat more. Feel free to enjoy the treats that you really love, but in small portions.

    10. Drink A Lot Of Water

    This can satiate your appetite as well as keep you hydrated at all times. And it will also prevent a possible hangover if you overdo it with alcohol.

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    11. Eat Less And More Often

    Distribute your meals evenly throughout the day, and do not eat everything at once.  Instead of having 2 enormous meals, have 5 small ones.  Eat your dinner earlier and have a nice walk before going to bed.

    12. Prioritize Your Workouts

    Try to do them early in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping. This way you will also avoid remarks like “Oh, come on! It’s Christmas…”

    So there you go! Twelve simple tips that will help you avoid gaining weight during the winter holidays, but will also allow you to enjoy yourself and have a great time with your loved ones.

    Happy Holidays everyone!

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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