Pro­tect your car this win­ter

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

THE colder weather brings with it more dif­fi­cult driv­ing con­di­tions and the in­creased risk of a break­down. As a re­sult, mo­torists can of­ten find them­selves un­ex­pect­edly stranded in their ve­hi­cles.

While peo­ple will en­sure they are pro­tected against the cold, they for­get about their ve­hi­cles, and that th­ese valu­able as­sets also need some care against the el­e­ments at this time of year.

Here are some tips that may help you, and your car, ne­go­ti­ate the win­ter months a lit­tle bet­ter.

Bat­ter­ies Bat­ter­ies tend to give more prob­lems dur­ing win­ter be­cause of the in­creased amps drawn by the starter to crank the cold en­gine. the last thing you want on a cold win­ter’s day is to be stuck with no power to get you mov­ing. to avoid this, en­sure you bat­tery is in good work­ing con­di­tion.

lcheck the water (elec­trolyte) level. Make sure the level is not too low (it must cover the fluid plates) and, if nec­es­sary, top it up. Use only dis­tilled water (water that is boiled and al­lowed to cool). Avoid over­fill­ing and clean any spillage.

lkeep the bat­tery clean. Clean the ter­mi­nals with warm (not hot) soapy water and re­move any acid or dirt build-up, which can cause the bat­tery to self-dis­charge quicker.

lse­cure the bat­tery. Make sure the bat­tery is se­cured prop­erly and not mov­ing around un­der bon­net.

lcharge the bat­tery reg­u­larly. If you nor­mally drive only short dis­tances, or use your car in­fre­quently, you may need to take a longer (one hour) drive each week to en­sure the bat­tery stays charged.

Shorter trips, or ex­ces­sive idling, is not enough to charge the bat­tery, and will shorten its life­span.

lswitch off be­fore you switch on. Switch all other de­vices in your ve­hi­cle off be­fore your switch the car on. th­ese in­clude the air-con­di­tioner, ra­dio, lights, seat warm­ers, wind­screen wipers, and demis­ters.

In cold weather a fully charged bat­tery pro­vides less than half of the power than in warm weather.

lal­ter­na­tor belts. Check the belts for fray­ing or crack­ing. a loose al­ter­na­tor belt is a com­mon is a com­mon cause of bat­tery fail­ure. lser­vice your car. Poor en­gine con­di­tion can over­load the bat­tery, so en­sur­ing your car is main­tained ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s specifications will ex­tend the bat­tery’s life.

If you strug­gle to start your ve­hi­cle, do not crank the en­gine con­tin­u­ously as this may dam­age the starter, bat­tery, and other elec­tronic com­po­nents. Tyres al­ways en­sure your tyres are in a good con­di­tion, and not worn down. Worn tyres are ex­tremely dan­ger­ous in all con­di­tions, but this dan­ger can be mul­ti­plied in wet, snowy, and icy con­di­tions. Check that your tyres are inflated to the cor­rect pres­sure ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s guide­lines, as this will en­sure op­ti­mal road hold­ing and tyre life.

It is also a good idea to en­sure you tyres are in a good con­di­tion be­cause the law re­quires it and you may face stiff penal­ties if you are stopped and your tyres are found to be sub-stan­dard.

the law says your tyres must have at least a one mil­lime­tre tread. Some tyres have tread wear in­di­ca­tors in the tread pat­tern to show when the tread depth is less that 1.6 mil­lime­tres. In th­ese cases, if the tread is level with this in­di­ca­tors, the tyre must be re­placed as it is con­sid­ered un­road­wor­thy.your in­sur­ance pol­icy may also re­quire that your car is road­wor­thy be­fore you drive it, and worn tyres may void that con­di­tion.

Re­mem­ber your lights as the days get shorter, and the nights get longer, many mo­torists will leave for work in the morn­ing while it is still dark out­side and they will need to use the car’s head­lights. En­sure the car’s head­lights are work­ing prop­erly.

also en­sure that you switch the head­lights off when you reach your des­ti­na­tion as you may have left them on af­ter the sun came out dur­ing your jour­ney. Park fac­ing a wall if you can, the re­flec­tion of the lights will act as a re­minder to switch them off.

Wind­screens and wipers If your car is parked out­side overnight, you may have a layer of frost on the wind­screen. Do not use warm water to clean this layer, your wind­screen may crack. In­stead use a scrap­per (an old credit card will do) to re­move the­ing the air­con­di­tioner to demist the in­te­rior of the car will also help. Make sure it is clear be­fore you drive.

avoid us­ing the wind­screen sprayers when driv­ing in cold con­di­tions as the water from the reser­voir will freeze onto the wind­screen, and the wipers will not be able to clear the ice.

Im­por­tantly, check the con­di­tion of your wiper blades and re­place them if needed, and avoid clean­ing mud and soil from the wind­screen with the wipers as th­ese can scratch the glass.if pos­si­ble, park your car un­der­cover at night to en­sure your wind­screen re­mains clear the next morn­ing. — aa


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