Look after your car fluids this winter

Posted on October 18th, 2013 by Rob Marshall

winterThe scorching summer is a distant memory and, although conditions have been somewhat mild recently, consider spending ten minutes on some basic fluid checks, to help ensure that your car remains both safe and reliable, should we get a sudden cold snap.

If your car’s engine possesses a dipstick, check that the oil level has not fallen below the minimum marking. If you own a diesel car, and you tend to cover short journeys only, be wary of the level rising above the maximum mark. Should it exceed this point, you are inviting engine damage. Some models possess an on-board means of checking the level. Should this be the case, consult your handbook and always top-up with the recommended grade and specification of lubricant. More information about which can be found in our guide to choosing your engine oil.

You will need to ensure that your engine contains a suitable antifreeze mixture, to prevent the coolant from freezing and causing severe damage. Antifreeze concentration should be between 35 and 50% and, although inexpensive DIY tools can be purchased to check, most garages should be able to check this for you.

Screenwash is often overlooked. Should the mixture in the bottle be frozen and you then drove the car on a public highway, you would be committing an offence. Should you submit a car to an MoT Test examiner with frozen wash fluid, it would fail. As demonstrated by our screenwash test, some brands offer negligible cold weather protection, therefore, choose wisely. Freezing screen-wash mixture can also split pipes and damage the pump motors.

Although relevant in all weathers, inspect your brake fluid level through its translucent container and make sure that it has not dropped below the ‘danger’ mark. If it is close to that point, top-up the level and consult a technician.

Should it be impractical for these tasks to be made at home, consider investing in a winter car inspection at your local garage, which will include not only fluid checks but also a more comprehensive inspection, including one that assesses the battery’s performance.