Check your battery
Make sure your car battery is charged and in good condition. During the Winter you will use your heater and lights much more than normal and this can put much greater strain on the battery. If your battery is old it may be worth buying a new one.
Top up your anti-freeze
Top up your anti-freeze in your radiator and in your windscreen wash. Both essential Winter procedures. Of course, both of these tasks use completely different fluids, so buy the correct one. Topping up your windscreen wash is straight forward but topping up your radiator is slightly more complicated. If you are not sure how to do it, check out a respected site like Halfords which has a video on how to do it, or take it to your local garage.
Check your tyres
You need good quality tyres with excellent tread for the Winter months to avoid any accidents on icy roads. Check your tyres or get them checked by the local garage. You can buy a tyre gauge to check them yourself and always check the cars manual for the correct depth and tyre pressure.
Check your oil
Make sure your oil is at the correct level to lubricate the engine and prevent it becoming overheated. There are many guides online on how to check your oil and your car manual will also explain but if in doubt Halfords does an oil check and top up for you.
Prepare for emergencies
Make sure you have some essentials in your car for an emergency, like a breakdown. I always carry a blanket, a phone charger, a torch with spare batteries and a first aid kit in the car. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) also suggests a fire extinguisher should be kept in a car, in the case of emergencies. De-icing spray or a windscreen scraper is also an essential piece of kit.
Consider breakdown cover
For peace of mind consider breakdown cover. Many start at less than £50 pounds a year and I feel is essential for peace of mind. I always remember being stuck on the M4 motorway near Bath in snow on Boxing Day a few years ago. We had breakdown cover which was a huge relief, and I don't know what we would have done if we hadn't.
Rent a garage or a buy a carport
A garage or carport can protect your car all year around, but is especially useful in the Winter. A garage will protect the car from the cold, the rain and ice but can be expensive to build or rent if you don't have one. A carport is a great alternative.
A carport, which is a shelter for a car, with a roof and often side sheets can be surprisingly affordable whilst still protecting the car from the worst of the cold weather. They also protect you from the elements whilst getting in and out of the car, particularly useful if you have shopping or if you are a carer and have to move those with a disability, the elderly or young children with you in and out of a car. If you do move house in the future, many are portable too so you can take it with you, check out the selection from 123V.
Brush up on your driving skills
Break, the road safety charity has a section on driving in the Winter on their website, and I think it's always good to read up on this before the season starts. Be careful, be cautious and if the weather is treacherous don't go out.
So these are some of my tips for looking after your car (and yourself) this Winter. If you are not sure on how to do the practical elements of preparing your car your local garage may offer a 'Winter Check' which will cover most of these elements. It's also a good idea to ensure your car is up-to-date with its servicing too.
Do you ensure your car has a Winter check up?