Winter is upon us. At this time of year batteries are running flat – both our own internal batteries and those of our cars… run down, running low, running on fumes. The cold is especially bad news for car batteries, affecting the chemicals that fire up the engine, and when there is also frost and ice to contend with, you really don’t want to find yourself on the front drive in the morning, with a car that’s as unwilling to move as your kids are to get to school.
So look after yourself, and also look after your car battery with some little winter TLC, and by following the five-point guide Duffy has put together, to keep you on the road through winter:

Do regular checks

Naturally you should keep an eye on the battery itself over the winter months. You’re looking for obvious warning signs, for instance if any part of the battery has corroded or rusted, and if you are at all concerned, get the vehicle to the garage for a full check. If you are yourself a petrol head (or know someone who is) also keep an eye on engine components such as the starter motor or the alternator, which can also run the battery down.

Warning signs

Make sure you do what you can to care for your car through the winter months: make sure you keep the tyre pressure up, and keep the car garaged if you are able. Like humans, engines will give warning signs to indicate all is not well. So have a listen: is the engine turning over OK in the morning, or is it sluggish or does it ‘click’ as you turn the key? Do the dashboard lights dim? If any of these signs are present, take it as a sign from your car that it’s not feeling tip top. And in that case, don’t keep pushing it, because that will ensure it goes completely flat. Instead, get it to the garage.

Have the clutch down when you turn the key in the ignition, which can ease the effort the battery takes to start the car. Also, give the engine a longer run once or twice in the week to recharge, rather than those short school runs that can drain the battery without allowing it to recharge.

Check everything when you park up

The perennial favourite… you park up, get out and leave the lights on in your car. Next morning you come down to go to work and guess what? Yep, flat battery. The same is true for headlights and even the heaters in the car, all of which can run the battery down. So in these winter months take extra care to ensure everything has turned off when you leave the car in the evening, especially if you have kids on the back seat who have been fiddling with the lights (I speak from personal experience here).

Be safe

Keep jump cables in the car at all times. That way, if you breakdown, or even if you’ve left the car for a while and the battery has run down, you may be able to jump start it and give it enough charge to get it going again. And if you have broken down, make sure you stay safe, and that the car is not anywhere dangerous.

Five useful tips. And here’s hoping Santa has also read Duffy’s guide as well, so that the sleigh is fit-for-purpose for its big night on the 24th!