Keeping on top of your car maintenance all year round might sound obvious, but this takes an extra bit of thought during the winter season.
The plummeting temperatures, falling snow and icy roads can pose several threats to your car. Statistics suggest that vehicles are twice as likely to malfunction and breakdown during extreme weather conditions.
That said, you should always keep your car prepared for the unforgiving winter weather. A little preparation goes a long way and can be a literal lifesaver for you and your loved ones. The first thing you should do is ensuring all problems you have with your vehicle are fixed and ticked off before it freezes. This will prevent any surprise emergency repairs in the depth of winter when you need the car most, and help is nowhere close. The last thing you want is to get stranded at the side of the road with a broken car with no heat. Fortunately, a few winter car care tips can save you unexpected mishaps, ensuring a comfortable drive even when the weather is unbearable.
Winter Car Care Tips for Winter Driving
Before doing anything else, always consult your owner's manual to ensure you are following the manufacturer's recommended service schedules.
Prepare a winter emergency kit As driving gets more challenging in winter, having an emergency kit in your car can help in case you get stranded or into an accident. Keeping your car stocked gives you peace of mind, especially when driving in sub-zero temperatures. Recommended items include blankets, gloves, jumper cables, emergency flares, a small first aid kit, water and non-perishable food. Winter car mats Snow and slushed-in mud can cause a mess or even stain your interior. Consider purchasing all-weather mats that clean easily to protect your car's carpets from wet or muddy feet. Should you get stuck in the snow, a decent set of mats can help you out.
Winter-friendly tyres Slipping out in the snow and ending up in a ditch is one of the worst ways of discovering your tyres need a swap. The harsh winter weather can especially be tough on tyres, which are your protection line against the slippery roads. Ensure you have enough tread by using the coin method. If you can still see most of the coin's outer ring, then it's time for a replacement. If you live in an area where temperatures regularly falls in to the minus, you should consider getting winter tyres. These give better traction while stopping or turning on slippery paths. During winter, tyre pressure is also very susceptible to dropping due to the sudden fall in temperature. Ensure it's at a healthy level to prevent premature wear or tread separation, both of which risk accidents. In the UK we dont really get the weather for snow chains but if you're far up North, they could be worth looking out for (but you already probably have them!) Keep lighting, windshield wipers, washer fluid and the exhaust system up to par Good lighting, which is often scarce during winter, is of utmost importance for safe driving. While you can't control how much light is outside, you can control how much light you're getting. You want your exterior lights to be in their best shape to give you the much-needed illumination for your safety and the safety of other motorists.
In the winter season, your wiper blades will be taking most of the beating clearing solid chunks of snow or ice from your windscreen. As such, they need to be in tip-top shape. Check for any damage to the wiper blades and replace them if needed. Save your blades by always using an ice scraper or de-icer to remove the ice stuck on your windshield. If you park outdoors, ensure to leave the wipers raised a little to prevent them from freezing to the windshield. And if possible, apply a glass sealant to the windows to repel water and water-borne contamination. Alternatively, you can protect them by investing in a foil windscreen cover. While you are at it, ensure you have sufficient winter-friendly washer fluid to keep your windshield clean and visibility level high. Also, have your exhaust system checked for any leaks or problems before the temperatures drop as clogged up pipes can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Take time to scoop out any ice clogging the pipes to prevent exposure to toxic fumes.
Under the bonnet Checklist
Keep the battery in good shape Your vehicle's battery is especially hit hard when the temperatures plummet because the cold temperatures reduce its cranking power. An old or even faulty battery is no match for the harsh winter weather. Furthermore, the extra usage of headlights and heat will likely drain your battery quicker. Ensure your battery is fully charged and in the best condition before realising when it's too late. Check heater and defroster Before the cold sets in, ensure both of these are working optimally. The heater works to keep you warm while the defroster prevents your windows from getting foggy. Monitor fluid levels When expecting winter weather, it's recommended to keep your fuel tank at least half-full or full if you can. Keeping your tank full can help prevent moisture that may have accumulated in the fuel pump from freezing. Remember to top up on anti freeze and replace engine oil and filters if necessary.
How to Preserve Your Paintwork During the Colder Months
Although a paint protection film should protect your exterior from harsh weather, that isn't to imply you should comfortably neglect your maintenance. In addition to the bitter ice, your car will be exposed to a different set of challenges - the salt and grit combination used to keep the roads ice-free. Below are steps you might consider taking to protect your paintwork and preserve your car's aesthetic look.
Washing car in winter
Adequately washing your car in winter means less chance of having salt and grit, which may cause rusting and scratching. Use the two-bucket washing method to decontaminate, pre-wash, wash, rinse and dry your car. Ensure to use de-ionised water when rinsing the car to avoid unsightly marks. Using a drier may help prevent water from forming streaks and protect the brakes from freezing.
A good wax like Collinite will keep your shine and help with making sure (some of the) sludge slides off.
Park it or use a cover
If lucky enough to have a garage, always ensure to pack your car inside to protect the paint protection from snow and silt. If not, it's best to cover your vehicle with a car cover designed for cold weather.
Gently scrape off the ice
In the morning rush, we tend to aggressively brush off the snow build-up, which only costs us more problems. Consider using a soft-bristled brush to preserve your paintwork during the winter. Caring for your car in winter can sound nerve-racking, but it doesn't have to be this way. Properly winterise your vehicle for the icy season by following the above tips.