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09/12/2022 News

Cold weather warning and top tips for car care from TotalEnergies

With a prolonged cold snap hitting the UK this week, TotalEnergies is advising mmakeotorists to sure their vehicles are ready to cope, with 5 tips for cold weather car care courtesy of Technical Manager Tom Hyde.

Tom Hyde, Technical Manager, at TotalEnergies Marketing UK, said:

“The UK Health Security Agency has issued a cold weather alert that could last at least until next week and perhaps beyond. People’s health and safety is the primary concern, but drivers should also be paying close attention to their vehicles, especially given that we are likely to see heavier car use and traffic volumes given the looming strikes across the public transport network. Good car care means fewer avoidable breakdowns, and lower running and maintenance costs.”

Check coolant levels. “Coolant plays a critical role in your car, keeping engines from overheating and also ensuring components don’t freeze up when temperatures drop. It protects the engine from damage and safeguards performance. Check carefully, and top up if required, making sure to not mix different types of fluid. Pure antifreeze must always be mixed with distilled water according to manufacturers’ instructions.” [Read TotalEnergies ultimate guide to antifreeze and engine coolant]

Choose your lube. “Your car doesn’t just want any oil. During colder months, engines will benefit from using oils with good low temperature performance to ensure correct viscosity (flow resistance) for winter, helping your engine to start more quickly and efficiently. Always check your manufacturer’s instructions (consult your car’s handbook if you have it or type your reg plate into our free Lube Advisor tool), but understand the essentials. The letters and numbers on engine oils often confuse consumers but their basic meaning is about how the oil reacts to different temperatures (its viscosity). They all follow the XW-XX pattern. W signifies winter. A lower number before the W means the oil thickens less and flows better in cold temperatures. The higher the number after XW, the more resistant the oil is to thinning at higher temperatures. Specialist oils have been developed for very cold environments (0W-20) and for hotter climates (20W-50).”

See and be seen: “Poor visibility is one of the most dangerous issues when driving in harsh winter conditions. Grit and ice can be thrown up onto windscreens, and snowfall can shorten visible distance severely. All of this is exacerbated when driving at night (which, in poor weather, should be avoided unless absolutely necessary). Drivers should make sure they have checked all their lights – including indicators, fog and brake lights. Remove any debris covering lights, and repair any significant scratches. Older cars may benefit from having bulbs replaced with newer and more powerful alternatives. The Highway Code states that you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle before and when driving. So, check the performance windscreen wipers and replace if performance has started to deteriorate, while topping up windscreen wash and ensuring spray nozzles are clear (including of ice). Do not pour boiling water on a windscreen to clear it in frosty mornings! Ideally use a frost cover, or if necessary a specialist de-icer spray and scraper.”

Tyres and tread: “We all know how important the right footwear is if you’re heading out into treacherous weather. Your car is no different. Tyre condition dramatically effects both performance and handling. If your tread is low, the minimum requirement is 1.6mm, then consider replacing the tyre as soon as possible. Make sure you’re also checking for evidence of slow punctures. Finally, don’t fall for the longstanding myth that tyre pressure should be reduced to handle driving on snow. Maintain good tyre pressure according to your manufacturer’s guidelines. Many modern vehicles have tyre pressure checkers and warning systems within the ECU, but get a manual pressure gauge if not and give your car a once over. Some drivers may be tempted by winter tyres – but these are often a hefty investment and performance will deteriorate once temperatures creep back over 7°C or so. Long term very cold temperatures may make it worthwhile, along with other precautions like snow chains.”

Battery health check: “It takes extremely low temperatures for batteries, or battery fluid, to actually freeze but prolonged cold weather can significantly affect performance. This is essentially because the chemical process that occurs within the battery is slowed down at lower temperatures, affecting its ability to produce an electric current. This means that your car will be harder to start, if it starts at all. The effect is multiplied if your car has been left standing for a long period of time. If your engine is turning over on ignition but not starting straight away then it may be time to replace the battery.”


TotalEnergies Marketing UK provides vehicle owners a wide range of how to guides, which are available here.