Arrive Alive

Use the FORCES to get ready for Winter

While many provinces may still be experiencing four seasons in one day, the definite cold weather that comes with June is just weeks away. Use this time wisely and get your vehicle ready for winter.

The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says a useful acronym was created by the RAC in the UK to help drivers prepare for winter. “The FORCES acronym helps drivers effectively run through a winter checklist. Go through the list before winter arrives in its full force.”

FUEL: while this applies to all seasons, it is particularly important not to drive with low fuel levels in winter. The Western Cape has winter rainfall and rain during commutes creates extra congestion which, consequently, increases consumption.

OIL: colder weather makes oil denser. Check oil levels are correct and ensure it is not too full either, as this can create problems too. Newer vehicles will alert drivers but in older vehicles it is important to do a check yourself.

RUBBER: this includes both tyres and wiper blades. Checking the tread on your tyres is a standard requirement across all seasons but tyres tend to have more wear and tear in cold weather.

For every 10°C the weather drops, tyre pressure drops as well. This is particularly evident in the mornings before driving warms the air. Thus, overinflated tyres may seem normal first thing in the day but become a problem once they warm up. Again, certain vehicles will alert drivers but for the rest, regular checks are important. Additionally, do not be hasty to inflate your tyres if the warning light shows in the morning but rather give the air time to warm up first.

One is just as reliant on windscreen wipers in good condition during dry winters as what they are during wet ones. Windscreens get dirty more often especially if they are parked outside overnight or under carports.

COOLANT: the coolant protects your engine from damage that colder weather can potentially cause. During frigid weather coolant lowers the freezing point of the fluid and keeps it liquid while circulating through the engine.

ELECTRICS: when temperatures drop below 10°C, the chemical reaction in batteries slows down. There is little one can do about it especially if the battery is near the end of its lifespan. Preventative steps are limited to parking inside the garage if you have one, doing regular maintenance on lead acid batteries by topping up the battery water (bear in mind, some are said to have no maintenance required), avoid leaving vehicles standing for extended periods or if this is unavoidable, use a trickle charger.

SCREEN WASH: after condensation or even frozen windshields on cold winter mornings, your washer fluid is essential to ensure visibility is clear. If you park outside overnight, you may also find your windscreen frozen first thing in the morning. MasterDrive recommends using a freeze prevention washer fluid, especially in this circumstance.  

South African drivers are fortunate that they do not have to battle the adverse conditions like the northern hemisphere, yet this still does not exempt one from preparing for winter.

 

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