By: Youlon Naidoo, Executive Head: Claims and Procurement at MiWay Insurance 

If there’s one thing South Africans are known for, it’s for our resilience. With petrol prices on the rise and electricity hard to come by, we have more than enough to keep us occupied as we battle through the last stretch of winter. From gas heaters to water bottles and thick stacks of blankets – there’s a sure way that we’ve all figured out to keep warm. But what about your 4-wheeled baby outside – who is keeping him or her warm and ready to hit the road on the daily? 

Our cars have become a big part of our daily lives – the day can literally go from making sense to chaotic in a split second, when your car just isn’t playing along. So, not only is the maintenance of your car critical in terms of preventing possible accidents or damage, but it also plays an important role in ensuring that you’re able to go about your business and live life your way. 

Whether you’re sporting a brand-new set of wheels or holding on to that ‘old faithful’ baby, it’s important to also consider your car as we brave the rest of winter. While you might not be able to control the weather or the power supply, there are plenty of ways you can show your car some love to prevent unwelcome stresses and make a dent in your bank account this season. 

Here are a few ways you can keep your car without compromising your chill: 

Keep tabs on those boots

Tyres play a critical role in keeping you safe on the road and can have a massive impact on everything – from braking to steering. As such, it’s important to carry out regular checks on all your tyres (yes, this includes your spare), making sure to look out for any signs of wear and tear and any potential punctures, cuts, or bulges. Regularly check your tyre pressure to lengthen their lifespan. Remember, if you’re not sure how inflated they should be, you can check for the necessary numbers on the inside of the driver’s door or in the owner’s manual.

Worn tyres are a big no-no, especially in wet and slippery conditions. It’s like running on a wet floor in heels or flip flops – a disaster waiting to happen. Shabby tyres significantly reduce your ability to control your car. With that said, it’s important to keep an eye on your tyre tread, ensuring that you get your car ‘boots’ well before reaching the regulatory minimum depth of 1mm. So, make sure to keep tabs on your tyres and have them checked out should any of them be looking suspiciously smooth or a little on the low side.

Be kind to your car’s brain – yes, it does have one…

With all the work that the battery must put in to get and keep the car moving, you can certainly consider it to be the brains of the car. After you, the driver, of course. The colder season can put your battery through a tough beating, especially in temperature fluctuations and extreme cold, particularly if you’re working from home and not using your car regularly. It’s advisable to ensure your car doesn’t sit idle for lengthy periods, thus avoiding the need to resuscitate it at regular intervals. If you notice that your headlights are dimmer than usual or other odd issues popping up when you start your car, this might indicate that your battery is nearing its end and that it should probably be replaced. So, just as you would move around to keep the brain active, make sure to check the battery regularly to avoid finding yourself stranded or immobile. 

See and be seen

Roads are at their most dangerous in wet weather conditions, so if you’re living in a region affected by winter storms it’s especially important that you put the appropriate preventative measures in place. Firstly, you’ll want to make sure that your windscreen wipers are in good working order, ensuring that there’s adequate water supply and that spray nozzles are functional. Your wipers can make a huge difference to your visibility should you find yourself caught in a storm, so it’s vital that you regularly give them a thorough check.

Now that you can see, you need to ensure that you are seen. Your headlights also play a role in your safety, allowing you not only to see but also to be seen clearly by other road users. More so during wild weather conditions or extended power outages, so make sure yours’ are shining brightly before hitting the road.  

Fogged up windscreens can also reduce your field of vision, particularly after a frosty night. You’ll want to schedule a few extra minutes into your morning routine to allow for a gradual demisting if your car needs a little time to do its thing. Simply switch on the defrost setting at a relatively low heat and run it for a few minutes while you exercise patience or find the right song to drive off to.

Whatever this winter throws your way, your ability to prevent and anticipate avoidable incidents will greatly reduce the likelihood of incurring extra expenses and hassles. While you might not be able to keep the lights on, you’ll be better equipped to enjoy the charms of the chilly season, your way. Remember, it’s important to keep your car well in check too when it comes to filing an insurance claim, a process that could be compromised should you fail to keep up with the maintenance of your vehicle.

MiWay is a licensed non-life insurer and Financial Services Provider (FSP 33970).

Leave a Reply