How to reduce the chances of breaking down in cold weather

How to reduce the chances of breaking down in cold weather

Getting your car ready for the winter can save you time, stress and money – so all vehicle owners need to be prepared for winter driving conditions. Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance sees a sharp increase in breakdowns when the weather turns cold, so it’s well worth ensuring you carry out the right checks on your car. Any underlying mechanical issues could escalate as temperatures plummet. You can avoid a costly breakdown this winter with a little care and preparation. Read our cold weather driving guide to keep safe and moving in the cold weather season.

Quick winter driving checks before a journey

We suggest you remember and use the acronym FORCES for the regular ‘DIY checks’ you should carry out through the winter especially as we head into the July blast.

That’s Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electrics, Screen wash

1. Fuel

Check you have plenty of fuel for your journey. It may sound obvious but you would be surprised how many people run out of fuel and with temperatures as low as expected you don’t want to get stranded. If you drive an electric car, ensure you have sufficient battery charge for your journey and make a note of charging locations on your route so you can top up the battery if required.

2. Oil 

Our rescuers check the oil level on every vehicle they attend and surprisingly they find one in three are dangerously low on oil. This can cause a breakdown or lead to catastrophic engine damage at worst. You should check your oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car’s dipstick and top up if necessary. Knowing how to check your car’s oil is a vital skill to have – especially when you have broken down in wintery conditions.

3. Rubber

You’ll need to check your tyres and your wiper blades before you set off. Check your tyres for general wear and tear racks, cracks splits or bulges, and most importantly, tread depth. Although the minimum tread level is 1.6mm, during winter it’s advisable to have 3mm of tread on your tyres to help with traction and grip. Also, ensure that you have the correct pressure in your tyres – check your owner’s handbook for the correct inflation levels. Your tyres are your car’s only connection to the road and they must be in good condition and correctly inflated for good traction and grip. Next, check your wiper blades. They are not everlasting and will need replacing from time to time, so check them for splits and cracks. Check whether they are effective at clearing your screen and replace them as necessary. Wiper blades can get frozen to the windscreen in freezing conditions and when there is ice. In colder winters, Drive Zim rescuers see a big increase in callouts to members’ cars which have blown a fuse or broken the motor/mechanics when operating the wipers when they are frozen to the screen. So clear your windscreen and ensure that they will lift off the screen before switching them on. Use warm water (never hot water) to free them if necessary.

4. Coolant

Check your car’s coolant level. The last thing you need is a frozen engine or for your car to overheat. Although it’s a sealed system and shouldn’t need to be topped up, you should always double-check, especially before a long journey. Check your coolant levels when the engine is cold and look in your handbook for the correct coolant and mix to use should you need to top it up.

5. Electrics

Check your car’s lights –they are essential for you to see and be seen. It’s vitally important to make sure not only that you can see where you’re going but also that other drivers can see you. Walk around your car and make sure all lights are working and that they are free from dirt and grime. Lights get extremely dirty during the winter months so clean them regularly. With a cold engine, check the battery terminals under the bonnet are clean and tight. If your car struggles to start and the engine ‘labours’ when you turn the key you should get it checked by a garage. If your battery is over four years old it may be getting to the end of its life and it could let you down. If you are having your battery tested, ask a garage to check the charging system and the drain on your battery – this will give a better picture of your car’s overall electrical health.

Drive Zim rescuers deal with over a thousand battery-related faults every winter as the cold weather takes its toll on older tired batteries and the wet and icey conditions play havoc with the electrics. Batteries have to work that much harder in cold conditions and they have to endure greater demand from extra electrical equipment like the lights and the heater.

6. Screen-wash

Check your screen wash level and top up with a quality screen wash additive or pre-mix which is effective down to at least -15 degrees Celsius.

What else to consider

In addition to the above checks, there are several symptoms your car can display letting you know something might need looking at. Carrying our regular checks to prevent a vehicle breakdown can make a huge difference.

Locking wheel nut key

These keys are designed to make sure that your wheel and alloys can’t be stolen. However, they’re also used to change your wheel or tyres following an issue. They are used to remove or tighten the wheel nuts. Locking wheel nut keys are kept in a small bag or box within your vehicle. Normally, they’re stored underneath the spare wheel in the boot, or your glove compartment. In some models of cars, the bag or box is stored under one of the seats. Make sure you know where these are, as you’ll be asked to hand them over to a mechanic after a breakdown so they can try and resolve the problem with your car. You’ll need your locking wheel nut if you suffer from a flat tyre. Knowing how to change a tyre can help save time and get you to a garage to fix any other issues – should your vehicle have any.

Preparing for a breakdown

However much you prepare, there’s always a chance that your car might leave you stranded over winter. So it’s important to have a Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance membership and be fully prepared for a breakdown: With so many different policies on the market, knowing which best suits your needs can be difficult. Of course, nobody can make this decision for you, but there are several factors you should consider when choosing a breakdown membership.  Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance provides a unique, comprehensive and competitively-priced emergency roadside assistance, towing and recovery service with seven levels of membership packages to suit all your needs and pockets. Call us or WhatsApp at 0780 579 261/0718 084 297 / 0736 523 424 Office+2638677160725

You probably didn’t have it in your plans, and you might not be exactly thrilled to have to call a tow truck. But it does happen, and when it does, perhaps the first thing on your mind is how much it will cost. The second thing is how much it would cost to tow your car. It is every car owner’s worst nightmare to have a vehicle break down in the middle of a road trip or city errand. It’s even worse when there’s nothing you can do about it – either because you’re too busy to address it yourself or if you just don’t know how to. That’s where Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance comes in handy! The world may be unpredictable, but our towing service is something you can always count on.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open chat