The last 3 winters (2010 to 2012) were among the worst in living
memory with widespread snow and ice for weeks on end and temperatures regularly
dropping well below -10C.
Records tumbled as the AA had its busiest day ever on Monday 4
January 2010 and then again, less than 12 months later on Monday 20 December
2010 when AA patrols handled more than 28,000 breakdowns.
Battery faults are far and away the most common cause of
breakdowns at this time of year but such extreme weather throws up some unusual
types of breakdown as well
Not really a breakdown, unless you keep running the pump until it burns
out and blows a fuse affecting something like the immobiliser system! Use a screenwash
additive all year round - undiluted in winter.
Trying to operate windscreen wipers stuck solid to the glass can lead to
blown fuses affecting other more vital systems. If low temperatures are
forecast make sure that automatic windscreen wipers are turned off – so they
don't try to operate when you turn the ignition on. Make sure the wipers aren't
stuck to the glass, before setting off too.
Due to lack of anti-freeze. Make sure you get it checked regularly and
top-up using a mix of the correct type of anti-freeze.
Stripped teeth on
cambelt causing engine damage
Try to start a car with a frozen waterpump and you could strip the teeth
off the timing belt leading to expensive internal engine damage.
Frozen door locks
and door seals
A squirt of a water-dispersant like WD40 in the locks will help as will
a light smear of Vaseline or silicone polish on the door seals. If snow falls
clear it from the car while still soft rather than leaving it for days on end –
the car will turn into a block of ice.
It's hard to keep the inside of the car completely dry when it's cold
and wet outside but it'll help avoid this rare but annoying problem – don't
leave wet clothes or boots in the car overnight.
Windows frozen to
Windows can become detached from the mechanism inside the door if you
try to power them down while the windows frozen in the frame. Best left until
the car's warmed up and the ice melted.
Diesel fuel waxing
In extreme cold, wax crystals form in
diesel fuel and can block fuel lines and filters. All diesel sold in the UK
November and 15 March has to meet the 'Winter diesel standard' which ensures protection
against waxing down to -15C. There's not much you can do to avoid it if the temperature
goes really low – apart from using a garage overnight if you have one and
trying to keep the car warm. Electric fuel filter heaters are available.
brake not releasing
If the driven wheels are on an icy road and can't grip it's possible
that an automatic parking brake won't release.
Frozen rear drum
brakes and handbrake cables
It's good to clean your car regularly through the winter to remove
corrosive road salt but not if you use a hose or pressure washer and blast
water inside brake cables or drums and the temperature drops. A drive after
cleaning can help but it's best to take care when hosing wheel arches or
Fortunately very rare, but poor design of under-bonnet drains can lead
to water from the windscreen getting into the alternator and freezing the
rotor. A screaming noise from the 'fanbelt' accompanied by smoke, a burning
smell and a battery warning light on the dash will tell you there's something
If you have any concerns or would like advice please call Denbury Diesels on 01803 220548