Keeping your car healthy in winter

Car Frost Scraper

WINTER IS COMING: There are plenty of maintenance items you can tick off.

How time flies when your car has been running well throughout the summer months. Now the weather has turned cold and you’ve done nothing to it since spring, beyond changing the oil and replacing a tyre. 

Contrary to popular thinking, vehicles do require seasonal attention to be kept safe and dependable. More to the point, their owners may need a seasonal reminder to pay attention to their vehicles needs.

During winter a vehicle’s cooling system takes on a slightly different role and in colder areas the system’s antifreeze stops the coolant from freezing if you’re parking your vehicle overnight.However, if you have been filling your cooling system with water, you may have altered the ratio of water and anti-freeze, making it less effective in doing its job.

To avoid any hassles, you should have your car car serviced or checked by an expert. We recommend NRMA MotorServe, which is currently offering a comprehensive winter health check for $39 (was $120), which includes wiper blades. However, there are still plenty of other maintenance items you can tick off yourself.

  1. Check your tyre pressures including the spare. If the load is greater than normal, inflate accordingly using the manufacturer’s recommendation on the tyre placard.
  2. Check the tyres’ tread depth while you’re at it, and if they are close to the wear limiters, consider replacing.
  3. If your windscreen wipers left fine lines on the glass last time you used them, now’s the time to replace the rubber blades and add some windscreen cleaner to the washer bottle. Windscreen wiper blades can deteriorate even on a new car that has been sitting in storage. The rubber in the blades is vulnerable to the elements as well as road contaminants. That’s why blades should be changed periodically, ideally twice a year, as a preventative measure
  4. Give the windscreen a good clean inside. If you’re travelling to alpine regions pack a plastic scraper in your kit to remove ice from the windscreen and door glass. Never use hot water on the glass, and remember, a small stone chip can grow into a large crack as the temperature lowers.
  5. Check that all the lights are operating – especially high beam.
  6. Cold temperatures put additional strain on your car battery. If you’re driving an older car and the starter sounds sluggish on start-up on colder mornings, check the age and condition of the battery. Most batteries are maintenance-free these days, but if your battery has caps check the level and top up as necessary. Battery testing, as well as delivery and installation by a qualified technician, is free for NRMA Members.

Has your car ever got caught in cold conditions? Any advice to share? 

- Driving in the snow
- Tips for driving in the snow


Car batteries and cold weather

Car BatteriesIs the recent cold snap affecting your car? Is it harder to start in the morning than usual?

There are a range of reasons why cars can be hard to start, from engine tune issues to fuel problems or simply a lack of oil.  But nothing can be affected more by cold weather than the battery.

On average the life of a car battery is 31/2 years so it’s worth asking yourself, when was the last time you replaced your battery or at least had it checked?  The good news is that new batteries use a lead-calcium-silver alloy construction which can deliver up to 20% longer service life than conventional lead acid batteries.

Unlike a noisy engine in need of a tune-up or the squeal of worn-out brakes, you often get no warning before your battery runs out.  And a car battery on its way out can cause problems to the starter motor, alternator and car electrics.

If you’re concerned about the condition of your battery, Members can call NRMA Car Batteries for a free health check on 13 11 22 or visit your local NRMA MotorServe car servicing centre.

Have you had problems starting your car in the cold weather? And was the problem the battery or was it actually something else?

8 Reasons Not To Miss Australia’s Best Cars

This Thursday, Australia’s Best Cars are revealed in Sydney. It’s a huge day on the Australian motoring calendar, where car buyers and manufacturers discover the year’s best cars, as judged by an independent panel of motoring experts from Australia’s seven car clubs.


There are eight key factors that make Australia’s Best Cars stand out as the nation’s most important car awards program, and make the all new Best Car tool (see below) an essential resource for car buyers.

1. Independent: Australia’s Best Cars is the most objective car assessment program in Australia. Unlike other award programs, ABC is wholly funded by the Australian Motoring Clubs and does not rely on advertising revenue. Therefore, the results are based on pure data, resulting from rigorous, independent testing with no external influences or bias.

2. Transparent: ABC is the only awards program in the country, and one of the only in the world, that has total transparency across the judging process. All scores are published for our Members, the wider public and manufacturers to scrutinise.

3. Expert: ABC’s 12 judges have more than 141 years of road testing experience, combined with backgrounds in vehicle engineering, vehicle testing and motoring advice.

4. Comprehensive: ABC evaluates 180 eligible cars on the market (not just new cars for that year) over a wide range of criteria. The testing takes place on 3000 kilometres of driving trackon on bitumen, dirt and off road. There is a yearlong evaluation period to develop the shortlist of 45 finalists.

5. Detailed:  Under the three headings Value for MoneyDesign and Function, and On the Road, there are up to eight criteria. Each criterion is given a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the best score possible, the higher the score the better. The program’s strength is its numbers – there is a number scored for every criteria and the total shows why each car won.

6. Consistent:  The Driving centre at The Australian Automotive Research Centre Test Facility, in Anglesea, Victoria gives the judges repeatability – allowing the same car to be driven over same piece of road.

7. Practical: The ABC uses criteria our Members value, ensuring relevance to the Aussie car buyer. The scores for each criterion are weighted according to their importance to buyers and vary by category. Each year, every car in the program is re-evaluated and we compile and publish in-depth scoring tables so we can give Members a valuable, up to date, reference point that is especially useful if you’re looking to purchase a new car.

8. Influential: The panel of expert judges have a genuine impact on the future of the automotive industry and manufacturers have previously made improvements to their vehicles based on feedback from the program. ABC operates to the benefit of consumers with the Motoring Clubs investing each year to promote safe and affordable motoring.

This year, the NRMA is launching a new Best Cars tool that packages the data from the Australia’s Best Cars Awards program into a portal that allows you to choose the Best Car for you. The new website allows Members to select the criteria that best suits your needs and will re-sort the cars in each category based on your preferences. The Best Car website will go live at midday on Thursday February 25 after the official results are announced. To access the site head to Australia’s Best Cars and follow the link.

How cars are rated to win Australia’s Best Cars

Behind-the-scenes of Australia’s Best Cars

Down and dirty – off-road at Australia’s Best Cars testing

Do you have The NRMA‘s legendary Road Assist? Don’t get caught without it.

- Renew your NRMA Membership - Join the NRMA - Find more about Membership options

How to stay safe when your car overheats

We remind motorists to be wary of the potential dangers associated with overheating vehicles and advise following these simple steps to stay safe. 


Our roadside patrols have reported an increase in jobs where Members’ vehicles overheat, leading to breakdown.

More than 28 per cent of NRMA callouts in the 12 months to October were for overheated engines.There have been at least five incidences over the past 10 months of people hurting themselves when trying to open the bonnet or remove a radiator cap.

“As we move into the warmer months it’s becoming even more important to remind members not to touch or open anything under the bonnet in any breakdown situation” says NRMA Roadside Manager, Robert Younes.

A vehicle running normally has some very hot components in the engine bay. Although it is rare with modern engines, even a well-tuned vehicle can overheat. If this happens, you should not touch the engine, and never attempt to remove the radiator cap.

The first sign of a vehicle overheating is when the needle on your car’s temperature gauge enters the red zone or the “Check Engine” or “Temperature” warning light on your dashboard illuminates.


Left alone, the liquid in the radiator eventually boils and steam will rise from under the bonnet. If these indicators are present, follow these simple steps.

  1. Pull over to a safe location as soon as overheating is detected. Continuing to drive, even for a short distance, could greatly increase damage.
  2. Call the NRMA and our call centre staff will dispatch a road service patrol to assist.
  3. While waiting for a patrol, do not open the bonnet. It is very dangerous to remove the radiator cap from a hot engine. A severely overheated engine can take several hours to cool. Do not touch or try to remove any engine components.

If a vehicle requires towing after overheating, it is because it has suffered or is suspected of suffering major damage and the cause could not be found or fixed at the roadside.

Regular checks of your car’s cooling system and proper servicing will significantly reduce the risk of overheating.

During days of extremely hot weather, the NRMA may receive a higher than normal volume of calls. Extra resources are rostered on the phone and out on the roadside to help cope with the demand. Avoid the call queue and use our app to book Roadside Assistance:

Warning: Members burnt by overheating cars

9 Tips To Save You Fuel

Keep a smile on your fuel dial by committing these nine expert tips to memory. Fuelsaving

  1. Shop around – Download the mynrma app to find the cheapest real time fuel prices in your area.
  2. Refuel when prices are low – not when your tank is empty.
  3. Avoid hard acceleration and braking – Flow with the traffic – smooth driving can reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent.
  4. Watch your speed – Keep in the left lane if travelling below the limit.
  5. Lighten the load – Take off roof-racks and bull bars if they’re not needed. Remove golf clubs or tools if you’re not using them.
  6. Tyre pressure – Keep pressure towards the top of the manufacturer’s recommended range. Under-inflated tyres respond poorly to steering and do not hold well on the road.
  7. Open the windows – When the weather is fine, switch off the air-conditioning. This can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent in urban driving.
  8. Shop smart – Take advantage of the range of petrol offers with companies.
  9. Service your car regularly – Blocked air filters can increase fuel consumption significantly. NRMA car servicing carries out a 40 point Safety Check free as part of every general or log book service.

More on the my nrma app

my nrma app

Find the cheapest fuel in your area with the my nrma app.

As well as saving you money by helping you find the cheapest fuel, the my nrma app is super-handy if you need roadside assistance or need to order a car battery – and you can even use it to save money with our partners.

Its available on the App Store and on Google Play.

Have you any fuel saving tips to share? We’d love to hear back from you in the comments?