Winter driving not only comes with its own hazards but also takes its toll on your car. Snow, sleet, and frigid temperatures can wreak havoc on your trusty automobile. Preparing your car for winter makes for safer driving, protects the engine, and helps maintain the value of the vehicle.
Get the Tires Ready
Tires are the most important part of the vehicle’s safety in winter. If you have worn or damaged tires, have them replaced. Smooth tires mean less traction on the road which increases the chance of skidding. Damaged sidewalls weaken the tire and under harsh weather can result in the tire collapsing. Check air pressure as under-inflated tires compromise the traction. Lastly, apply a tire coating that will keep them cleaner for longer and repel snow and ice. For those in areas with extreme cold, you may want to consider fitting winter tires.
Protect the Paintwork
Winter gives your car’s exterior a beating. Snow, ice, and mud can all dull the paint and shine. More importantly, salt from roads lands on the body causing rust and knocking down the value of the car. A good layer of wax helps protect the body. Better yet, apply a ceramic coating which is tougher and lasts a lot longer giving better protection. To check if your car is adequately waxed, do the water test. Water will “bead up” on a waxed car.
Keep Your Car Clean
That nasty factor mentioned in the previous point — salt — is your greatest enemy in winter. Salt is corrosive and causes rust. You may want to slack off when it comes to washing your car during winter, because who feels like braving the freezing temperatures to wash the car, right? But regularly cleaning your vehicle is actually more important in winter. This includes not only the outside but also the interior and the undercarriage. In the inside, swap material floor mats for rubber mats as they better catch the water from snow that come off boots, preventing the floor from discoloration.
Prepare it Mechanically
Last, but certainly not least, prepare the engine for the harsh winter weather. Critical things to check: brakes, antifreeze levels, wiper blades, battery, lights, and the heating and defrosting system. Antifreeze/coolant is something that’s important in both summer and winter. In summer it helps keep the engine cool, and in winter is exactly as it says, “antifreeze”. Check oil and if necessary, replace with clean oil. Check wiper blades and replace them if they are worn. Also remember to switch your windshield fluid to the winter one which does not freeze on contact with the icy weather.
Start winterizing your car during fall to get it fully prepped for the fierce weather. Remember to also keep it covered if it parks outside, or put down a garage mat to catch the water from snow and ice if it parks indoors. Stock up the emergency winter kit (you do have one, right?) with crucial items like a flashlight, batteries, ice scraper, flares, first aid kit, blankets, and snacks and water. And that’s it – you’re all ready for winter driving!