Winter is coming! No, we're not just doing our best Jon Snow impression...
Winter is pretty much here and it's time to start thinking about preparing your Mini if you haven't already... After all, the Great British Weather is anything but predictable - could we have a January heat wave, or will we be hit with Beast from the East part 2? Who could be sure!
It's better to be safe than sorry, so we've tasked our experts to let us know their top advice & tips to be Winter ready whether your Mini is your daily driver, or tucked away in the garage.
Begin by looking at the basics -
Your body seals may be dried out & deteriorated, cracked or shrunk, chances are, if this happens you're going to be met with Water Ingress... As far as replacement Mini parts go, seals are relatively low cost & easy to change at home, so swapping them when needed could save you massively in the long run, as we all know that leaks inevitably lead to = RUST.
Winter Tyres are often underrated, but the extra grip & reassurance whilst driving is noticeable straight away! Below 7°C you would stop 11 metres sooner than with summer tyres (when braking on an icy road from just 20mph). It's just a case of switching over the tyres when the temperature drops, there doesn't even need to be snow/ice for your Winter Tyres to be useful. If you're interested in knowing more or purchasing Winter Tyres for your Mini, check out our dedicated blog post here.
Check your Mini's lights are in full working order, it's usually a lot darker throughout the Winter months, which is also not helped by rain or snow! Having fully functioning lights helps you to see & be seen on the roads. Keep an eye out for headlight 'fog' this is usually a good indication it's time to change. Replacement lights & bulbs can be found on our website & are easy to fit from the comfort of your own home!
Check your Mini's wipers are working correctly, the rubber should not be split/cracked and it also shouldn't leave any strange marks on the windscreen. If this is happening it is worth replacing the wipers, again this is an inexpensive part but can make all the difference keeping you safe on the roads! Visibility is key - your wipers work hard in Winter cleaning your windscreen of muck, rain & snow. It's also a good time to check your washer fluid levels - keep it topped up, your screen needs cleaning more in Winter, so use a stronger solution of screen clean additive to help prevent icing of your washer fluid in low temperatures.
Cooling & Heating
I'm sure you don't need us to tell you how important cooling & heating is for your Mini in Winter... Ensure your antifreeze is topped up! Ensure the strength of the antifreeze/coolant is at the correct ratio to prevent overheating and damage to core plugs or worse, from a frozen cooling system. We'd also recommend checking that your heating is functioning as it should, this not only keeps you toasty on your journey, but can also help clear your misted windscreens & windows, by counteracting the condensation from your warm breath hitting the cold glass. Heated windscreens are also a great idea as an upgrade if budget allows, you can find the range on our website here.
- Get your battery checked if possible.
- Keep driving for substantial distances to give it time to charge, short journeys just don't cut it.
- If possible, parking your car in a garage will help.
- Keep it clean - get rid of dirt & any debris.
- Wait to turn on the heating, radio & lights - give your alternator a moment to get your battery charging.
- Thermal blankets for your battery (yes, they do exist!)
- Trickle chargers can give your battery an extra boost.
- Keep a set of jump leads in the boot - you never know when you may need them, don't get stuck in the cold.
- Change your battery every three years.
If you'd like more information on maintaining your Mini's battery, check out our blog here.
There are certain things you can keep in the boot of your Mini to make sure you're prepared for the worst should the situation arise, but also basics that will simply help you deal with a cold winter morning!
- Scraper & De-icer
- Jump leads
- Blanket/warm clothes
- Details of any breakdown cover (RAC/AA/Greenflag etc)
- Bottle(s) of water (for you & your Mini, you both need to stay hydrated!)
- Snacks (if the weather is bad you may have a long wait to be recovered, it will help keep energy & concentration up!)
- Torch & spare batteries (it's dark in Winter!)
- Empty fuel can
- Hi-vis jacket
- Warning triangles
- Power pack (you need to keep your phone charged up incase of emergency!)
- Tow Rope
Yet another cause of rust, grit/salt on the roads... A necessary evil, it helps stop the roads from being icy, but it is the enemy of the Mini. Grit on the roads can cause a reaction with the metal work underneath your Mini, particularly on the Subframes & Floor, causing Iron Oxide, or rust to you & me.
If the area you live in is prone to being gritted, stop & think - is my journey in the Mini essential? If it is, we would advise taking extra time when you return from your journey to clean off any grit/salt you can see under your Mini & dry the area. It might be a pain, but if it saves your metal work trust us it's worth it!
If you decide to travel in your Mini this Winter, the biggest advice we can give you for Winter is to drive safely! Not just applicable to Minis, this even applies to your modern vehicles!
This includes planning routes around major roads, which are more likely to be cleared and gritted. Getting up early in case you need to de-ice your Mini. Ensuring your windows are clear of ice, snow & condensation before setting off. Don't forget, your stopping distance on snow & ice increases significantly from what it usually is. Consequently this means be gentle with your manoeuvres & travel at a slower speed. Be aware of what is going on around you & try to allow extra time for winter journeys.
Remember, you are not Paddy Hopkirk on the Col de Turini!
Storing your Mini over Winter is also an option. But just parking your Mini in the garage and forgetting about it until Spring can cause a multitude of issues the next time you come to drive it!
Seals can dry out, causing cracking which consequently leads to leaks... Bugs or vermin can find their way in chewing their way through your wires.
It's also a good idea to take your Mini for a run out every few weeks, give that engine a good work out! This will help maintain a protective layer of oil on all the crucial parts of your engine. Which in turn will prevent rust & seizing.
If you do decide to store your Mini, be sure to prepare it correctly:
- Cleaning - thoroughly clean your Mini! Anywhere that can go rusty, but be sure to remove any debris.
- Lubricate any hinges & joints with oil that you can on the steering & suspension.
- Change your oil & filter - dirty oil filters can clog your engine!
- Drain the fuel system.
- Check your coolant - you don't want ice!
- Remove your battery & clean any acid off - store somewhere cool & dry until you're ready to drive again.
- Jack your Mini if possible - this will remove weight from the suspension & help prevent flat tyres. Be sure to use the correct jacking points.
- Crack a window - leave a small gap to keep air flow & prevent moisture building up.
- Cover your Mini - prevent any muck, dirt & dust from sitting on (or getting in to) your car.