Still summer tires on the rim? Then it’s time to change – and also the right window cleaner, the right rubber care and a battery check must be so that your car does not suffer a winter blackout.

It’s getting cold in Germany. The first snow has also fallen. At night, temperatures drop below freezing in many places. If you have not already done so, you should urgently think about winterizing your car now.

Changing tires every year is a key point. And that applies not only to the inhabitants of the low and high mountain regions, summer tires are also hardly suitable in the coming months in the lowlands and in the metropolitan areas, warns the Automobile Club of Germany (AvD).

Winter tires do not become hard in cold temperatures and therefore grip noticeably better. They offer a significant gain in safety even on wet leaves or when it is frosty.

In regions with little snowfall, on the other hand, all-season tires can be a cost-effective alternative. Their rubber compound and profiling represent a functional compromise between summer and winter tires. In addition, there is no need to change wheels depending on the season and the second set of wheels does not have to be stored.

At the latest, however, when snow is left on the roads, winter tires are superior because their special lamellar profile offers a self-cleaning effect that prevents the tire from becoming clogged with snow.

Incidentally, in Germany there is a “situational winter tire obligation”. Means: If you drive in wintry road conditions with unsuitable tires, the police can fine you 60 euros and give you a point in the Flensburg traffic register. It can be 80 euros if there is a traffic obstruction due to unsuitable tires. There is also a fine of 75 euros and a point for the vehicle owner. If the driver of a car with summer tires is involved in a traffic accident, not only can joint liability be charged, there is also a risk of a significant reduction in comprehensive insurance benefits due to gross negligence, emphasizes the AvD.

Winter tires in the sense of the legislature are only winter and all-season tires that bear the “Alpine” symbol on the sidewall if they were produced before January 1, 2018. On the other hand, the M S label used until then is not sufficient because it is not legally protected and in some cases even summer tires are marked with it.

You should also keep an eye on the lighting. A check in a specialist workshop is recommended. You should also check the windscreen wipers, the rubbers of which may have suffered from the summer heat: is the wiper performance still satisfactory or are there streaks on the wet windscreen? Putting glass cleaner on a rag and wiping off the wiper rubbers with it can already help. If that doesn’t improve the situation, new wiper blades are definitely needed. This is especially true when the rubber is torn.

The level of the windscreen washer fluid should also be checked on this occasion. If it has to be topped up, an antifreeze additive should definitely be used. It doesn’t exist in the “summer” wiper water.

Another tip from the automobile club: Anyone who has already opened the bonnet can free the gaps and air intakes from accumulated leaves leave a fine coating.

A glass cleaner from the supermarket or denatured alcohol diluted with water is suitable for cleaning the windows. However, its smell is not for everyone. In both cases, the cleaning agent should not dry on, but rubbed in immediately after application and then wiped dry with a clean, absorbent cloth or newspaper, advises the AvD.

To prevent the windows from fogging up, walnuts wrapped in a linen cloth can be placed in the passenger footwell or a small bowl with commercially available table salt can be used. A good choice is a small room dehumidifier from the hardware store. Speaking of room climate: Replacing the old air and pollen filter for the interior of the car with a new one can also do no harm.

To prevent the doors from freezing solid, the door rubbers should be treated with glycerine. However, the same purpose can also be achieved with baby powder: simply put it on a dry cloth and rub it into the door seals. Both agents have a moisture-repellent effect, keep the rubber supple and thus protect the seals from damage.

In the cold season, it is advisable to pack a woolen blanket in the car to be on the safe side, in case there is a long traffic jam. A flashlight is usually already included in the smartphone anyway. Snow chains, on the other hand, should only be carried if there is a corresponding weather forecast or if a trip into the mountains is pending. Work gloves are also not a bad idea.

From now until the end of the year, AvD members can again have a free winter check carried out at participating Bosch service outlets. In addition to a light test, this includes other tests such as the coolant level and antifreeze content, so that the cooling system remains fully functional at temperatures below freezing. Furthermore, the battery, the curtailment voltage and the starter current are also checked.

Incidentally, weak or defective batteries are still the number one cause of breakdowns – this even applies to electric cars, where the starting process actually runs on a 12-volt battery. If the car doesn’t start, don’t fuss, just wait a bit before trying again. Switch off electrical consumers (lights, interior lighting, radio, etc.) when attempting to start.

If all else fails, the jumper cables have to be used. Basically, the following applies: The operating instructions for the breakdown vehicle and the donor vehicle provide information on whether jump-starting is permitted for the vehicles, what dangers or restrictions exist and which connection points are specified for the jump-start cable (they are not always located directly on the battery – with older models the In the BMW 3 Series, for example, the battery is in the trunk, but the jump start positive pole is in the engine compartment). The cable should have a cross-section of at least 16 millimeters. Even 25 millimeters for jump starters for diesel vehicles.

The first step is to use the red cable to make a connection between the positive pole of the donor vehicle and the positive pole of the breakdown vehicle. Then the negative pole of the donor vehicle is connected to a suitable metal part (earth point) of the breakdown vehicle with the black cable. If all cables are correctly connected and firmly seated, the donor vehicle is started. If its engine has been running for a few minutes, you can start the breakdown vehicle.

When the engine starts, both vehicles should run for a few more minutes before heavy electrical consumers such as heated rear windows, lights and fans are switched on. Otherwise, voltage peaks may occur when loosening the terminal clamps, which could damage electronic components. Then, in reverse order, first the black negative cable, then the red positive cable should be disconnected and electrical consumers that are not required should be switched off.

In order to recharge the battery, a longer journey is necessary, preferably on the motorway/country road and 30 minutes (switch off unnecessary consumers such as rear window heating, of course not the light) – otherwise the battery should be charged with a suitable charger.

In general, the ADAC recommends only giving a jump start if a broken down vehicle or a starter battery is not defective. If the driver is unsure, he should consult an expert or a workshop. Otherwise there is a risk that the engine will fail after a cold start while driving, which increases the risk of an accident.

With a booster, the jump start works in a matter of seconds even without a “donor” vehicle. However, some devices with their lithium-ion batteries fail in winter of all times, as a test by the car club has shown. As soon as temperatures dropped to zero degrees or below, the tested devices no longer delivered the currents specified by the manufacturers. None of the products met the manufacturer’s specifications at minus 18 degrees. Therefore: Do not store the boosters at low temperatures and strictly follow the manufacturer’s specifications when using them.