So, you’ve just signed up for a gym membership which seemed a bit extortionate but you’re hoping that’s the motivation you will need to actually go. You’ve resolved to eat healthily and have thrown out all the chocolate and cheese that you hoarded over Christmas. All of this means you’re well on your way to completing those New Year’s resolutions that you know deep down probably won’t last until the end of January, let alone the rest of the year. So that’s your body all looked after (for now), but what about your cars #bodygoals? We have a couple of other New Year’s Resolutions for you to add to your forgotten list. Getting your vehicle winter-ready only takes some preparation and common sense. We’ve compiled a list of five things you can do to make sure you avoid any nasty surprises or costly bills this winter. We’ve got the preparation covered, but you’ll have to provide the common sense yourself.

You Bathe Weekly (we hope), and so Should Your Vehicle!

Baby, its cold outside and while you get to shelter from the Great British Winter, your beloved vehicle is sat shivering on the driveway. We know what it’s like, you’re back on the daily grind again after that well needed Christmas break and getting up in the morning is proving difficult. You’re spending the evenings hibernating from the cold, dark nights with the heating up full blast which is keeping you nice and toasty but also burning a hole in your wallet. You simply rolled your eyes when you returned to your car only to find some caring citizen had written ‘clean me’ across the back. The last thing you want to do is venture outside while bracing the wind and rain to scrub the dirt off your bonnet with numb fingers, but trust us, it’s the right thing to do.

Road salt makes for safer driving but when it sits on your cars body paint and works its way into the undercarriage, it can lead to corrosion and rust. Regularly washing your car can keep the rust at bay because once it starts it’s hard to stop. Before you know it, it’s a painful problem and a blow to the wallet you just cannot afford. Washing your car in the middle of the day when the temperature is at its highest is recommended as if it’s too cold the water and soap will freeze and cause more damage. And let’s face it, you haven’t got anything better to do on Saturday afternoon. If possible, it would be best to wash your car after it's just completed a short journey to help raise the exterior panel temperatures. Start by rinsing your vehicle before going over it with a sponge so you rid the bodywork of any grit and dirt as this could end up scratching the paintwork. It’s also important to use warm, but never boiling, water. So, next time you’re soaking in that lavender scented bath reading a gossip magazine in the flicker of candlelight, spare a thought for your car, even he deserves a little treat once in a while.

Wax On, Dirt Off

No, we aren’t talking about waxing your legs, because let’s face it, nobody can be bothered to wax over the winter. That hair is an extra layer of warmth that’s really needed on those frosty mornings. But for the sake of your car, it’s time to go Brazilian. Waxing your vehicle isn’t all about the shine, it acts as a buffer between your car’s bodywork and the winter elements. Having a layer of wax will prevent the stubborn grime from sticking and will mean it’s easier to wash too. Here at Citygate we use GardX which provides a highly resilient, transparent barrier to protect your car from the elements. Our trained technicians can apply this to your vehicle at your local Citygate Bodyshop. If you do decide to do this yourself then make sure you buy the correct wax solution. Concentrate on the parts of your car that are closest to the road, such as the front grille and wheels, as these take the brunt of the snow, ice and salt. You wouldn’t go outside without a coat on so you shouldn’t expect your vehicle to either.

A Dent in your Bank Account

Dreaded rust. It’s like a rash that just won’t go away. If you remember anything from Chemistry you’ll know that iron oxide is formed when water is present. There is a lot more moisture in the air over the winter period which means rust is much more common. The paintwork on the body of your vehicle is its armour against the elements but even the smallest of dent in your vehicle’s bodywork can weaken its resistance to the wet winter weather making it more likely to rust. If left, the rust will spread and can get into vital parts of your car. That’s a dent that your wallet could really do without! Dents also reduce the safety of your vehicle. Damage to the frame of the car, for example, the bumper, may seem minor but it weakens the structural integrity of the vehicle which will make it less effective at protecting you in case of a collision. Safety is our number one priority which is why we highly recommend having dents looked over by a specialist.

Absolutely Cracking

During the winter months, even minor windscreen damage can become a costly problem because freeze-thawing is more likely to occur. Forgive me for sounding like a GCSE Geography textbook for this bit: when water gets into small chips in your windscreen and then freezes as the temperatures plummet, the water expands and that tiny chip that seemed insignificant is now making a wonderful spider-web like pattern across your windscreen. This means your car is unsafe to drive and your windscreen needs replacing. This can be done by our trained technicians at your local Citygate Bodyshop. To prevent it from reaching the stage of needing replacement, we recommend following a couple of simple rules. Don’t use boiling water to defrost your windscreen as the sudden change in temperature can cause a crack to expand. Buy yourself a good quality de-icer and scrapper and check your wiper blades frequently for dirt and debris that collects in the winter months so they don’t drag a nasty scratch across your windscreen. Drive carefully, the roads at full of potholes that can be hidden by puddles. The vibration caused by driving over these can worsen any weaknesses in your windscreen. Lastly, and most importantly, have a specialist look at the windscreen damage. Small chips and cracks can usually be repaired without much fuss. That’s a relief for you and your wallet!

A Wheely Big Problem

Your tyres withstand more than any other component of your vehicle. The average person in Britain travelled 6,449 miles in 2016*. Those are some hardworking tyres! During the winter when the roads are often wet and icy it's more important than ever to make sure your tyres are properly maintained. The law requires a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, driving on tyres that don’t meet these criteria is illegal. Worn tyres are particularly dangerous when the roads are wet as the treads help disperse the water from under the tyres so it doesn’t interrupt the grip on the road surface, without this there is a risk of aquaplaning and potentially losing control of your vehicle. Alongside checking your tread depth, it is also important to check the tyre pressure. Air contracts when it is cooled which means the air pressure in your tyres will decrease. Having poorly inflated tyres increases braking distance and significantly affects your chances of skidding. Even Formula One cars get their tyres changed so the next time you imagine yourself as the next Lewis Hamilton, consider bringing your vehicle in so we can give your tyres a once over. We can’t promise we will get them changed as quickly as that of a Formula One team but we will try our hardest to get you out of pit lane and back in the race as soon as possible.

So, imagine it’s now the last week of January and you find yourself making every excuse possible not to go to the gym this week because you’ve got housework to do or you’ve got a slight twinge in your shoulder. You decided to treat yourself to a bar of chocolate but you blinked and now you are ankle deep in sweet wrappers. It was inevitable. We’ve all been there. Your summer body can wait but your car’s body can’t. You’ve got a busy year planned and you are going to need your vehicle to be reliable. The winter is harsh on your car and you’ll be cursing yourself when you notice that small dent that you ignored has now become a menacing patch of rust. We want to save you from those January blues so trust us, these are the New Year’s Resolutions worth sticking to.