The essentials of winter motoring maintenance

Motorist checking their car engine on the side of an icy road

Unlike Mother Nature, which tends to go into hibernation over the winter months, motoring journalist Iain Robertson highlights that our motor vehicles are forced to soldier on through more extreme weather conditions, yet remain dependable.

There can be few events more upsetting than being forced to endure a breakdown in sub-zero temperatures, because something surprisingly elementary has failed to operate as it should on your car. While a roadside recovery might reveal the problem and enable a continuation of your journey, perhaps you ought to have considered the implications of having a pre-winter check, a mere £19.99 at your local Mr Clutch Autocentre (mrclutch.com/winter-service).

Modern motorcars benefit from sealed cooling systems, which means that breakdowns related to frozen radiators, thermostats and burst pipes are predominantly of a motoring past. Yet, replenishing the coolant fluid at least once every two years is an important criterion in maintaining vehicle reliability, especially when the temperature plummets. Coolant also contains anti-freeze additives but they age and need to be replaced periodically, which should ensure that you do not suffer the indignity of a 1970s roadside breakdown.

Your vehicle’s electrical system is placed under immense pressure to operate efficiently during the winter months. If you use your car, or van, for commuting, the chances are it will be in the hours of darkness. As a result, with the headlights on constantly, the heated rear window keeping rearwards vision safe, the wipers and washers operating regularly, as well as its heating and ventilation system keeping occupants comfortable, the battery and charging system are always under load.

The Winter Service carried out at Mr Clutch Autocentres, which you can book online (mrclutch.com/winter-service) can pre-warn you and even prevent many of the charging issues with which your vehicle can be confronted. Part of the check procedure involves an alternator and battery test, at the same time checking the tautness of the rubber reinforced belts that drive vital engine components, such as the car’s water pump. Reduced temperatures can cause some belts to fracture and break unexpectedly but the skilled technicians at Mr Clutch Autocentres know what to look for and how to remedy the problems, before they occur.

Of course, checking all of the car’s fluid levels and topping them up as necessary is part of the process and one of the most important is the windscreen washer bottle. With salt and other sprays affecting outwards vision adversely, constant washing of the screens soon empties the reservoir’s contents and an empty bottle is both a finable and endorsable offence. Mr Clutch Autocentres will refill it with an appropriate mix of antifreeze fluid and water. At the same time, the technician will check the condition of your vehicle’s wiper-blades, as inevitable wear and tear can result in a streaky and obscured view out.

A positive attitude towards the safety of its customers is paramount at Mr Clutch Autocentres and, having mentioned the vehicle’s electrical system earlier, as part of the 12-Point Winter Check, all exterior bulbs and lamps are tested to ensure that their filaments are in a sound condition and they are working efficiently. Last but not least, while the car is on a ramp, its tyres will be checked for cuts, lumps and tread depths that might not be noticed otherwise. It is all part of the Mr Clutch Autocentre service to maintain your vehicle’s reliability and ensure that you are safe during the winter season. Find your nearest branch and book your Winter Service now by visiting mrclutch.com/winter-service