- We give you the best car care tips; tailored to meet your needs
- Our top five checks help you decide if you’re a Car Lover or Casual Driver
- Clear advice from leading automotive experts on exactly what to look for
1. Tread carefully when choosing your tyres
Car Lovers: Invest in a set of premium tyres
Shopping around for the perfect set of tyres really can have a massive impact on how your car performs. Carefully choosing a set of high-performance rubber can be a fantastic way to boost your car’s grip and agility in all conditions.
Better yet, they’ll often last a lot longer than more budget options too. Just ensure you pick the right size and speed rating for your car, and if you can afford them, big brands like Continental, and Pirelli are a great bet.
Casual Drivers: How do I know when to swap my tyres?
Regularly checking the pressure and tread depth on your tyres is one of the best ways to keep your car’s handling safe and secure, particularly in winter. The right air pressures will be printed in your car’s handbook, and keeping them pumped up correctly not only ensures that your car remains sure-footed, but also helps save fuel.
If in doubt, pop a 20 pence piece into the tyre, and if the tread reaches beyond the outside band of the coin, you’re well within legal limits.
2. Brighten up your lights for winter
Car lovers: Should I switch to high performance bulbs for winter?
Whether your car uses normal halogen lights, or high-intensity ‘HID’ beams, there are now plenty of options for upgrading to a brighter set – some of which offer up to 100 per cent more light at certain points along the beam.
Switching is as simple as buying a compatible set of bulbs, and fitting them yourself.
“High output bulbs are definitely worth upgrading to, but stick with original equipment makers like Philips and Osram – cheaper online options are nowhere near as durable,” recommends Kim Adams, product test editor for Auto Express.
Casual drivers: A surprising trick to brighten your lights…
If your car is a little older, your headlights might be looking a little foggy or misty, even when it’s dry outside. There is a quick and simple fix though – take an ordinary tube of toothpaste and apply it onto the headlight, then (if dirty) spread it out with an old brush, being careful to avoid the paint. Wash it off with water, stand back, and admire the results.
You can achieve the same effect by using glass cleaner, and a pair of old tights to scrub with.
3. Keep your car topped up with vital fluids
Car lovers: Consider using synthetic motor oil
Even if your car’s manual doesn’t say your engine requires synthetic motor oil, it may be worth spending the extra money to keep your engine in top spec.
Synthetic motor oil has a number of key advantages over its mineral equivalent, and it is these advantages that you pay for: it is less affected by extreme temperatures, lasts longer than non-synthetic oil and doesn’t break down into sludgy deposits.
Synthetic motor oil can even help clean up an older engine that is blocked up by sludgy mineral oil deposits.
Casual Drivers: What to do if you suddenly run out of screen wash…
Winter roads covered in grit and grime can mean racing through screen wash faster than a Formula One driver. So what should you do if you get caught out?
A proven homemade recipe involves mixing three cups of vodka (or any white spirit) with four cups of water and two teaspoons of liquid dishwasher detergent. Mix it together and pour it into the reservoir.
4. Protecting your body work
Car lovers: Does my car need to be clayed?
You may think that detailing clay is only for car care specialists, but this simple step can give your paint a brilliant deep clean that will last for months. Check if your car needs treatment by washing and drying it, then place your hand inside a sandwich bag and run it across the surface of the paint. If it feels rough, like sandpaper, then it does need claying, so get to it!
Casual Drivers: The bike spray that can banish rust
Most of us struggle to find the time to lovingly wash and pamper our cars, especially when the roads are dirty, but there is a simple way to keep things corrosion free. Spray under the bodywork, around the suspension and floor with water repellents like ACF 50 (normally used on motorbikes and planes) or WD40 – it’ll keep grime from sticking like nothing else.
5. Keeping your exhaust clean and clear
Car lovers: How to clean your exhaust tips like a pro
Often overlooked, dirty exhausts will stick out like a sore thumb if the rest of the car is shiny and spotless. You can use a variety of products to help, but the main ingredient is elbow grease.
Start with a microfiber cloth to shift the worst of the dirt, then scrub the tips with a strong cleaner and fine steel wool, before buffing them up with polish (Autosol is perfect) until they’re shiny and gleaming like new.
Casual Drivers: Three signs your exhaust might be clogged
Blocked exhausts can cause major problems – but the warning signs may not be obvious, so here are three things to look for to keep things running smoothly. Poor fuel economy, a big loss of power or a hissing noise from the exhaust can all be signs of trouble. If any of them crop up, then book yourself in for a service; spotting it early will save you a lot of money or repairs that may not be covered by insurance.
Whether you are looking to keep it in pristine concourse condition, or simply keep it running smoothly, these tips – a mix of professional advice and simple quick fix solutions – are the perfect preparation for a long winter.