Well, it’s that time of year again… We drive to work in the dark. We come home in the dark; the weather’s utter pants and the long lazy days of summer seem like an eternity away. But don’t just pack up your car and hibernate until spring; there’s plenty you can do to drive away those winter blues…
We’ve put together our top 14 things to keep you busy until the spring. Some are free, while others will cost you a few quid, but all are guaranteed to keep any performance tuning enthusiast happy as a pig in poo. So turn up the central heating, make yourself a nice cuppa and have a look at this little lot…
1. FIT REMOTE START
Those damn freezing cold mornings mean you need to give your car plenty of time to warm up. A decent remote engine start system (such as Clifford IntelliStart) will allow you to do it, while still sat inside eating Coco-Pops in your slippers. Happy days.
2. GET THE BIG JOBS DONE
If you’ve been toying with the idea of upgrading your turbo, then now’s the time to do it. Don’t leave it until the spring so you’re without your car for a couple of weeks, get it booked in now. You’ll also allow plenty of time for parts to arrive and to sort out any niggling problems.
3. PLAN FOR 2014
If you get busy now, you can make sure mates, girlfriends, family etc have plenty of notice for next year’s roadtrips. And the earlier you book, the more cash you can save. The biggies are getting out to the Nürburgring and Le Mans. Get in quick for reduced ferry prices, hotels and more.
4. BUY A CONVERTIBLE
Have we gone mad? Possibly. But a rag-top makes sense in winter as no one wants them. Not only can you pick up a bargain, you can also amaze people as you drive past, with the roof down in January. NB this is only advisable if you have a good heater, a stout bobble hat and a car with an engine that sounds better with the roof down. Probably best not bother if it’s a Suzuki Capuccino…
5. DO SOME DRIVER TRAINING
Winter is an excellent time to brush up on your skills. No matter how good you think you are, you can always learn something, especially if you’ve recently changed cars eg from FWD to RWD.
6. BUY A DECENT VALET PACK
Winter means you’ll need to wash your car more, but rather than seeing it as a ball ache, look at it as a bit of time to yourself. An hour or so away to spend giving your car some love. Invest in a decent home jet wash, quality shampoo, polish, alloy wheel cleaner, wax and detailing cloths. Not only will this de-stress you, it’ll also keep your car in top nick with all the salt and crap on the roads at this time of year.
7. GET A WINTER RUN AROUND
If you don’t want to subject your pride and joy to the elements, why not pick up a cheap ride for winter? If you’re used to watching where you park, avoiding kerbs and keeping the interior spotless, an old nail will be a breath of fresh air. The Scrappage scheme may have taken a fair few off the roads, but you’ll be surprised how many performance cars are out there. You could even spend the winter transforming one into a budget track toy ready for spring. Winter is the perfect time to try out a cheap rear-driver as grip levels are much lower. Something with modest power like a Mazda MX-5 or BMW 325i will do the job.
8. HAVE AN EARLY DRIVE
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean it’s constant snow! Remind yourself why you’re into performance tuning by getting up early on a Sunday and driving out to the sticks for a blast. Get our for 8am and you’ll have the roads to yourself for a couple of hours, while the rest of the country sleeps off hangovers.
9. DO A ROLLING ROAD DAY
Most clubs organise dyno days and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. Hang out with like minded people and get some ideas for future tuning work, while seeing what sort of power your car is running. In our experience, every tuned car will benefit from a dyno run, even if it’s just so you know it’s running right before you tune it for more power.
10. GET THE GAMES CONSOLE OUT
If you’re planning on doing any trackdays this year, then it makes sense to spend the winter learning various circuits. Whether it’s Silverstone, or the Nürburgring Nordschleiffe, you’ll really notice the benefits when you get on the real thing.
11. DO A TRACKDAY
Sounds a bit mad – going out when the weather’s likely to be bad, but it makes sense. Not only are trackdays cheaper out of season, they tend to be less busy. That means more time finding the limits of your car. And talking of limits, wet weather is an ideal test to see how you car handles – especially if you’ve made some recent upgrades such as suspension or tyres. Far better to find out that your setup may cause the back end to snap out on track than on a busy country road! Plus when you get out in the summer, you’ll have the edge on your mates who all stayed in watching repeats of Top Gear and Downton Abbey.
12. INDOOR KARTING DAY
Everyone likes karting – an ideal place to get your frustrations out and race your mates without ending up in the nick! NB if you have a fat mate, they will always say they prefer to “have fun and drift” rather than take it seriously and race like everyone else. Like being “really funny”, this is another lie propagated by fatties to make themselves look good.
13. UPGRADE YOUR HEADLIGHT BULBS
If you don’t already run HID or Xenon headlights, then uprated aftermarket bulbs can make a significant difference – especially at this time of year.
14. GET SOME WINTER WHEELS
Salt and general road detritous take their toll on expensive alloys (like above), so consider investing in a set of cheap winter rims. For the real bargain buys try your local breakers, classifieds ads and eBay.
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