mini cooper s bonnet covered in snow

Driving in Winter can be hazardous with ever changing driving conditions, traffic, diversions and of course the drop in temperature which can leave many of us vulnerable over the Winter months. We’ve created this video with 5 easy steps you can take to help conquer Winter, most importantly these are all checks you can perform yourself to ensure your car is fit for Winter.

We lift the bonnet on 3 of the UK’s best selling models to show you the location of the oil reservoir, oil dipstick, coolant and screen wash, all vital elements to help you prepare your car for Winter. We’ll give you handy tips throughout and explain why a 20p coin can help you stay safe, but also avoid a nasty fine.

To help you remember each point we’ve created an acronym with the word ‘Winter’, remember each of the 5 points to stay safe this Winter.

1 Wipers
As Winter draws in and visibility drops it’s more important than ever to check the condition of your wiper blades, lift up the wiper arm to the locked upright position and run a clean cloth dipped in screenwash along the rubber to remove any grime whilst checking the condition of the rubber for splits, don’t forget to check the rear wiper if your car has one. If you do spot any defects then it’s time to renew the wiper blade.

2 Inspect your levels
Pop open the bonnet and familrise yourself with where the screenwash, coolant and oil reservoirs are and oil dipstick. Here we’ve got 3 popular models to help give you an idea on what to look for. It’s important to perform these checks whilst the engine is cold before a journey.

  • We’ll start with the coolant, locate the cap with a coolant warning symbol and you’ll see a minimum and maximum level on the reservoir, ensure the level is between these markers, if it needs topping up then unscrew the cap slowly (remembering the engine must be cold to avoid scalding and top up with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze, this is important as it will help prevent corrosion and avoid the engine freezing over Winter. Avoid overfilling as this can expand and screw the lid back on.
  • On to the screenwash and this is vital to help with both visibility and safety, you’ll see a cap with a windscreen and water droplets on, pop this off and top up with a screenwash additive, this is available as both ready to use or concentrated, if concentrated then add 50/50 ratio of water, avoid using just water as this can cause the windscreen to freeze.
  • Now for the oil and oil dipstick. Locating the 2 is easy, the oil cap has oil can symbol, whilst the dipstick has a bright handle to help make it clearly visible. Some cars have a digital measure, whilst most will have a physical dipstick in the engine bay. To check the oil level we’ll use the dipstick ensuring the engine if switched off, the car is parked on a level surface and that the engine is cold. Remove it from the chamber wiping the end with a clean lint free cloth to reveal the oil markers, insert the stick back and remove again to confirm the level, the oil should be within the markers, if it’s below then it will need a top up. It’s important to refer to your handbook to ensure you use the correct grade of oil for your car, unscrew the oil cap and slowly add the oil, small quantities at a time, whilst repeating the dipstick check to avoid overfilling. Avoid overfilling as this can cause more harm than good.

3 Notice your fuel level
May sound obvious but as the cold evenings and dark nights draw in, so do the unexpected delays, it’s vital that you plan your journeys in advance to ensure you’re not stranded at the side of the road. Over the Winter condensation can form in the fuel tank, keep your tank at least half full to avoid this from happening.

4 Tyres
The one element that keep your car on the road. Tyres start life with 8mm of tread, whilst the legal limit is 1.6mm. A quick and easy check as recommended by the Tyre Safe is to use a 20p coin around the tyre, if any part of the inserted edge of the coin is visible then they’ll most likely need replacing, remember stopping distances increase drastically when below the 3mm mark. If you notice unusual wear it might be worth confirming the tyre pressures are correct and topping up at your local fuel station.

In the event of a slow puncture most cars are now supplied with a tyre foam and compressor kit to help keep you on your journey.

5 Electrics
It’s really important to check all your lights work both for visibility and for other road users to see you. Checking your lights is easy and we recommend you check them regularly to stay safe and legal. The engine doesn’t need to be on to check your lights, walk around the outside of the car and check all your bulbs are working from the sidelights to your low beam, don’t forget to check your indicators and fog lights. Checking your full beam, reverse lights and brake lights can easily be checked against a reflective surface such as a garage door or window, alternatively a 2nd person can help you to check.

Repeat all 5 steps regularly, at least once a week to ensure your car is fit for Winter.

Preparing for Winter made easy, it’s worth keeping a can of de-icer at home and in the car, along with an ice scraper and emergency kit (warm clothing, non perishable food and battery jump leads).

To quickly defrost your car on a freezing morning you can use warm water to quickly defrost the windows (not boiling), a windscreen cover or a can of de-icer, most importantly allow plenty of time of your journey and drive safely.

If you’re still struggling in the cold click here to check out our huge range of 4X4’s. No matter what the weather throws your way you’ll find your perfect car at Fords of Winsford.

Row of Ford cars covered in snow