Winter is the time of the year where our cars take a serious beating. Frosty windshields and general wear and tear can be a burden on the pocket if you don’t maintain your car during these icy months.

Doing routine checks on your vehicle should be common practice, however, making sure your vehicle is safe during the winter months can go a long way and can even save you a few extra rands on your car insurance premium.

So how exactly do you care for your car during winter? Below are a few tips that will show your vehicle just how much you care:

1. Check Your Battery

Ever wondered why it’s harder to start your car in very cold weather? That’s because your car battery may lose a significant amount of power when temperatures drop, so it’s advisable to ensure it’s performing at optimum levels.

Your local mechanic may be able to check whether your battery is in good working order. You may need to replace your battery if you notice it isn’t performing well.

2. Check Your Tyre Pressure

Your tyre pressure drops when temperatures drop. Underinflated tyres reduce traction, which can be extremely dangerous in icy conditions. Avoid the dangers of driving with low pressure tyres and have them checked the next time you fill up at the petrol station or check them yourself.

Use your vehicle owner’s manual to check the correct tyre pressure, or watch this video for a guide as to how to properly inflate your tyres:

3. Check Your Tyre Tread

According to the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2000 – GN R225 of 2000, the tread of your tyres must be at least 1mm deep around the tyre's circumference or, where the tyre has a tread depth indicator, it should at least be level with the same tread depth indicator. However in winter, a minimum tread depth of 4mm is recommended. If your tyre treads are wearing down, you may need to schedule a visit to your local tyre dealer.


4. Use the Right Antifreeze

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, your engine needs to be cooled, even in winter. So it's important to maintain a good coolant level.

A 50/50 combination of antifreeze and water is what your engine needs to avoid damage. Check with your your local mechanic to find out which is the correct antifreeze for your vehicle; you can mix your own coolant or they can sell you a premixed version.

5. Use Thinner Oil

Cold weather can thicken your engine’s oil, which forces your battery to work twice as hard for your car to run smoothly. Switching to a thinner oil may prevent potential engine trouble and also give your battery a break.

For the most part, a 5W-20, 5W-30, or 10W-30 oil formula can work with your car, but always check your owner’s manual for notes on compatibility. It’s also a good idea to have the oil filter changed regularly too.

6. Clear Foggy Headlights

Headlights can become cloudy and yellowed over time. This reduces visibility while you’re driving. If your headlights need some clearing up, you can buy a DIY restoration kit at an auto store or a simple trick is to use toothpaste on them (yip, you heard that right!).

Having your car break down is the last thing you need, especially as the nights get longer and the temperatures drop. Not only would it be an inconvenience, but it can be expensive too. Get car insurance for your budget from MiWay with the benefit of 24-hour emergency roadside assistance to give you peace of mind.

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