How to look after your car in cold weather

Image: iStock

While ensuring that you are warm this winter, do the same with your car to make sure that you are not stranded in the cold.

Cold temperatures have started to drop the mercury as South Africa braces itself for another chilly winter.

One’s car is often forgotten during this time, as most people are trying to keep themselves, their families, and their furbabies warm. However, taking the time to make sure your vehicle survives the winter will be worth it in the long run, both for peace of mind and for your pocket.

The Automobile Association (AA) has graciously provided motorists for some handy tips, from dealing with frosty windscreens to making sure your battery doesn’t die.

Image: iStock


Because of the increased amps drawn by the starter to start a cold engine, car batteries do give more problems in winter than in warmer temperatures, the AA explains. In addition, a fully-charged battery provides less than half the power it does in summer.

A car’s battery life is also largely determined by where you live – a car by the coast may last longer than one in Bloemfontein, due to temperature, humidity, and evaporation.

Make sure to check the following components:

  • Check the water level. Make sure it just covers the fluid plates. If needed, top it up with distilled water.
  • Keep your battery clean. Wipe the terminals with warm soapy water to remove any dirt build-up.
  • Secure your car battery properly. Make sure it does not shift out of place under the bonnet.
  • Switch off all other devices in your car when parking. Remember to close all doors, and turn off the air-conditioner, radio, lights, seat warmers, demisters, and windscreen wipers.
  • Check alternator belts for any fraying or cracking. A loose alternator belt could cause battery failure.
  • If you do have trouble starting your car, do not continuously try to crank the engine – this could damage various other components, including the battery.


Image: iStock

  • Replace worn tyres, especially in wet, snowy, and/or icy weather.
  • Make sure your tyres are pumped to the correct pressure.
  • Maintain your tyres by keeping tabs on the tread – tyres must have at least a one-millimetre tread. With tyres that have tread wear indicators, this will show when the tread depth is less than 1.6mm. If the tread is level with the indicators, it’s time for new tyres.


  • Park in front of a wall if you can, as the reflection of the lights on the wall will serve as a reminder for you to switch them off.

Windscreens and wipers

Image: iStock

Parking your car outside during winter tends to become a tedious task. If your windscreen has a layer of frost from the night before, remember these tips:

  • Do not use warm water to clean the frost, as this could cause your windscreen to crack. Rather use a scraper, such as a credit card, to remove the ice.
  • The air-conditioner works wonders to demist the inside of the car. Make sure you can see clearly out of the windscreen before you head out.
  • Do not use windscreen sprayers in extreme cold, as the water could freeze onto the windscreen, and the wipers will be unable to clear the ice.
  • Replace your wiper blades!
  • Avoid cleaning mud and soil from the windscreen using wipers, as this can scratch the glass.
  • Park your car undercover at night to ensure your windscreen stays clear.

Content courtesy of the AA website

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