An expert has warned drivers that they could risk engine damage if they fail to make sure that their antifreeze levels are sufficient. Dorry Potter, an expert at National Scrap Car, told Express.co.uk: “A vehicle’s antifreeze/coolant level should always be at the maximum recommended level throughout the whole year.”
The expert continued: “The purpose of antifreeze and coolant is not only to stop the water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing during the winter by lowering the freezing point of the water, helping your engine block to maintain an even temperature, it is also vital for protecting your engine from corrosion, aiding heat transfer and preventing rust and scales from building up.
“Water expands when it freezes, so without antifreeze to prevent this from happening, you could cause damage to your car’s radiator and other pricey and essential engine components such as the head gasket.”
Ashley Johnson, sales manager at Parkland Motors, echoed Mr Potter’s claims saying that topping up with antifreeze is vital.
He added that there are several car maintenance checks that motorists should carry out during winter.
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Mr Johnson said: “Car maintenance checks are vital to ensure your vehicle continues to perform smoothly and failing to carry out these checks can lead to a potential car breakdown.
“With temperatures dropping dramatically in the winter months, spending a few minutes performing these basic checks will prevent damage to your car which may be costly to fix.”
Speaking about antifreeze, Mr Johnson explained: “Antifreeze is an absolute must for when the temperatures start dropping into minus figures as it does exactly what it says on the tin – prevents freezing in the engine.
“Antifreeze is essential during the winter months but motorists should remember that engine coolant needs to be a mix of 50 percent water and 50 percent antifreeze.”
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The expert continued: “Antifreeze becomes diluted over time as people top up the engine with water throughout the year.
“This means antifreeze becomes less and less effective when more water is added. The engine can overheat during very cold weather if the antifreeze is diluted, so it’s crucial that this is taken care of and topped up.”
Another vital check that drivers should not overlook involves the car’s tyres. The expert advised drivers to check tyres for pressure and tread depth to make sure they are in good condition.
A minimum depth of 3mm is recommended, even though the legal minimum is 1.6mm, as 3mm will ensure an even better grip in wintery conditions.
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Tyre pressure for every car should be specified by the manufacturer and drivers can find this either on a sticker on the driver’s side door, in the fuel filler cap, or in the vehicle manual.
Having overinflated or underinflated tyres can both be equally damaging. Underinflated tyres can cause excessive wear on the edges of the tread due to uneven contact between the tyre and the road.
Overinflated tyres have less contact with the road, meaning the vehicle will have longer braking distances and less traction.
Drivers should also check that all lights, indicators and rear reflectors are clean. Mr Johnston said: “Regular maintenance of your lights is vital to practise safe driving and it is also a legal requirement.
“As winter nights start drawing in much earlier, it is dark on the roads for much longer and correctly-working lights are crucial for visibility.”
Parkland Motors advised making sure there are no cracked lenses or blown bulbs and to check full-beam headlights, fog lights, and indicators also.
Lastly, motorists should check their windscreens and wipers. Like the vehicle’s engine, the screenwash fluid which cleans the windscreen needs to be topped up with antifreeze to stop it from freezing over and obstructing the view whilst driving.
Mr Johnson recommended giving the windscreen a thorough clean inside and out as well as checking for any chips caused by small stones.
In colder weather, these chips can grow larger and compromise the strength of the windscreen.
The expert added: “It’s also crucial to check your wiper blades or any nicks or tears. This way you can check whether they will clear your windscreen effectively which is a necessity when it starts to snow.”