Why is it Worth Giving Your Car a Spring Check-up?
The throes of winter are finally leaving us and spring is just around the corner. With the COVID-19 vaccine rolling out at great speed across the UK, there’s light at the end of the tunnel and everyone is hopeful to have the ability to move freely and resume some semblance of normal life come the spring.
For many, use of the car has dropped dramatically in recent months, but especially over the winter when the latest lockdown was put into force. You might think that would save your car wear and tear, but every winter – even when locked down – is a season that plays havoc with your car and its mechanics.
In today’s blog, we’re giving you all the most important reasons as to why it’s worth giving your car a spring check-up at the garage.
What Does Winter Do to Your Car?
Your car doesn’t appreciate any kind of temperature extreme. When it gets either too hot or too cold, things tend to start going wrong. What are the negative effects of winter on your car? All of the following are reasons why a check-up is a good idea when the spring rolls around:
1. Winter and car batteries do not get along
Have you ever had your smartphone just switch off when you’ve got about 5 percent battery left but it’s very cold outside? Cold and batteries do not get along. The same is true even of good-old 12-volt car batteries, sturdy as they are.
When the temperatures drop, the battery is less able to deliver current. The lowest temperatures at which car batteries can function normally, especially older ones, is about -1.1 degree Celsius. Anything under that means your battery is operating in difficult conditions.
2. Winter makes your car’s crucial fluids less efficient
There are several critical fluids that make your engine work properly: engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, antifreeze and windscreen washer. Winter doesn’t freeze them to crystals, of course, otherwise your car wouldn’t even start. It does, however, change their viscosity and efficacy.
Engine oil, for instance, can become thicker, which makes it tougher for the oil to do its job of lubricating the engine parts. Synthetic oils are a bit more resistant to this effect, but your car going through a cold winter should be enough for you to have all of these fluids checked.
3. Road salt put down in winter can be bad for your car
In your limited winter driving this year, you have likely driven on roads to go to the shops or carry out other errands. Even in lockdown, those things were permitted. Wintry roads get covered in road salt to melt the snow, which gets into your wheels, onto the side of your car and also onto the undercarriage. It can cause corrosion and other problems if not washed off properly.
4. Wintry weather can damage your windscreen wiper lades
The wiper blades on your windscreen were primarily designed to remove liquid water from the surface of the glass. When they slide over ice or snow, the rubber on the base of the wiper can be torn, which takes away a great deal of their efficacy. The blades will become worn over time anyway, but winter will greatly increase the speed at which they wear out.
5. Driving without being warmed up properly can cause damage
Modern cars don’t need to be warmed up for as long as they did 30 years ago but they still benefit from running it at slightly lower speeds for a few minutes initially before breaking into 60-70mph speeds. This is especially true in the winter. In our busy lives, we can sometimes be in such a rush to get going that we forget to let our car get going properly. If you’ve done a lot of rush driving in the winter, it might have taken its toll and so an inspection is a good idea.
6. An EVs battery chemistry is impacted by very cold eather
If you drive an electric vehicle, winter is generally the worst time of year for your car. The battery can lose power, giving you less acceleration and quite possibly significantly reduced range compared to what you get in the spring and summer. If your car has been through a particularly cold winter, then you might want a quick check-up to make sure the battery and other components are in good order.
7. Ice in the fuel lines can cause damage
Your petrol does not freeze unless it gets to something like minus 40 degrees or colder. Having said that, your fuel lines can get water moisture in them, which of course does freeze at more normal winter temperatures. The resulting ice in the fuel line can clog fuel pickup. The best way to prevent this is always try and keep your petrol tank at least half full, but an inspection when the spring arrives to check that the lines’ integrity is still intact would also be a good idea.
8. Winter is a bad time for your car’s many screens
Modern cars are fitted with multiple screens, usually at least two. The driver’s instrument cluster is often fully digital now, but if not then at least has a central screen. The second is a central infotainment screen where you display your smartphone Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as navigation, music, etc. Both can become sluggish and otherwise badly affected by the cold winter weather.
Better Safe than Sorry
As you are doubtless aware, your car is a finely tuned mechanical machine, and extremes of temperature or other sorts are not good for it. Strain on the vehicle means a greater likelihood of faults, which ultimately grow into bigger problems if not properly attended to.
If you’re worried about the expense of getting a check-up, then don’t. A basic check-up might set you back £100 or so, but not making this investment could see small problems that have started in the winter snowballing into much more serious things that you’ll have to pay even bigger bills to fix later on.
We recommend that as the spring comes around and the country opens up again, get your car down the garage for a once over. It’s a small expense for a great deal of safety and peace of mind.