Christmas may feel like a distant memory, but its legacy lives on in the form of unwelcome debt and a wee bit of leftover festive flab. What’s more, winter continues to drive on in earnest; the cold weather and dark nights making it all the more difficult to get motivated at the start of the New Year.
Many of us are still finding ourselves scrimping and scraping at this time of the month — particularly when it comes to pricey but essential stuff like topping up and taking care of the car.
To help you reach payday with your sanity (and safety) intact, here are some winter car care tips that’ll help you save money and stay safe this season.
Invest in Breakdown Cover
Shelling out for breakdown cover might sound counter-intuitive to saving money this January, but doing so could save you a small fortune in the long term. With firms like the AA handling around 30,000 call-outs per month during the winter, the season sees more breakdowns than any other time of year. If you don’t have breakdown cover, the cost of a roadside emergency could wind up costing you a three or four figure sum — and who needs that when you’re still paying off your Christmas credit card debt?
To browse the latest breakdown cover deals and special offers, we’d recommend using a price comparison site like Comparethemarket.com.
Take Care of Your Windscreen
Despite the run up to Christmas being unseasonably mild, winter is far from over — and a cold snap could be just around the corner. For drivers, a night of sub-zero temperatures could hamper the morning school run or commute, leaving you to defrost your windscreen in the freezing cold.
While it can be tempting to pour hot water on a frozen windscreen to speed up the defrosting process, doing so could result in the screen cracking or shattering — leaving you to pick up the costly repair bill and find another way to get the kids to school on time.
Instead, use a can of quality de-icer and a scraper, and manually remove the frost from the windscreen and door windows. Or, if this Daily Express article is to be believed, use a mixture of water and rubbing alcohol to quickly remove the ice in a matter of seconds.
Drive Safely and Economically
If there’s one thing you can rely on during a British winter, it is unpredictable weather. Rain, hail, ice or snow — the season throws all kinds of weather our way, leading to some fairly unsettled and treacherous driving conditions.
In order to get from A to B safely during a bout of horrible wintry weather, it’s important to steady up and give yourself more time to reach your destination. While this might add time on to your commute, it will keep you safe — and that’s not the only benefit of driving a little slower during the winter.
According to the AA, driving economically could save you up to 33% on your weekly fuel bill — which is a lot, given that most cars cost over £40 to fill up. It’s a good idea to stick to the speed limit, too, as driving too fast will lead to you burning fuel, not to mention money, unnecessarily.
Further to this, fuel economy experts, Redex, recommend driving smoothly without labouring the engine to achieve maximum fuel efficiency during the winter. They said: “Before an engine has warmed through, it’ll burn fuel less efficiently. Engines are also more susceptible to wear and tear in the first few miles of a journey, so try not to gun it before it’s had time to warm up.”
Check Your Fluids Regularly
Cold temperatures can lead to the development of all kinds of symptoms beneath the bonnet, but only if you neglect to keep your car’s fluid levels well topped up — specifically coolant/antifreeze.
Coolant/antifreeze circulates through the engine to regulate its operating temperature, and without it you’d almost certainly experience a breakdown. During the winter, coolant/antifreeze will freeze in the engine if the correct ratio of antifreeze and water isn’t present. To prevent your engine’s coolant/antifreeze freezing solid and ruining your engine, use a high quality product that’s been tested in temperatures down to -37°C.