Effective Ways To Care For Your Car During The Winter Season

January 11, 2023

Winter season is upon us, and with it comes the tedious task of warming up your car for five minutes, scraping off the windshield and shoveling your driveway. Car owners have a long list of things to remember when it comes to preparing and maintaining their vehicles for the cold season, and it can get overwhelming. Here is a list of effective tips to help keep your ride in tip-top shape during the winter months, and to provide some comfort about safety on the road and confidence on vehicle sustainability.

Make The Switch To Winter Tires

Winter tires are first up on the docket and for a good reason. Tires are made of flexible rubber compound accompanied with tread design specifically meant to add traction on snow, ice, and slush. Another aspect to winter tires is they are most effective when soft and malleable, creating friction to provide control. As a result of hardening features, summer and all-season tires get worn during the cold seasons; drivers can even lose control on dry roads. Having winter tires is a benefit to all drivers as they provide proper vehicle control and easily pay for themselves within the first trip drivers make in the snow. Snow tire sets can cost between $250 to $600 depending on a few variables, such as vehicle type and dealership. However, compared to what it costs to settle an accident - which could be in the thousands - a few hundred dollars is a bargain. Next up is a solid tip for dealing with covered windshields you don't want to miss.

Purchase Winter-Ready Windshield Wipers And Wiper Fluid

Winter is the season for massive snowfalls, frosted windows, and freezing rain. Making sure that drivers have a clear line of vision while on the road is crucial to safe operation that starts with ensuring the front and rear windshields are cleared off. Windshield wipers are useful for clearing off light snow, and front and rear window defrosters are helpful as well. However, ensuring that wipers are in good shape is essential. Wipers are typically made of rubber or synthetic compounds, and although durable, will crack and wear out after a while.

It is a common misconception that windshield wipers should be left in the upright position when leaving a car parked for an extended period. This may prove dangerous to your vehicle as windy conditions could thrust wipers down, potentially cracking the windshield or damaging the blade. A simple solution is to clean ice and debris off of the windshield religiously and just place a plastic bag over windshield wipers while away to achieve the same results.

Make Sure That Your Gas Tank And Oil Are Filled

Driving in the winter season can be stressful with slippery roads and cold weather. One way to avoid unnecessary stress is by making sure that your gas tank is reasonably filled at all times. No, it is not necessary for drivers to refill every day. However, keeping a vehicle above a quarter tank will ensure that running out of fuel is one less thing to worry about. Nothing is worse than being stranded on the side of a road with an empty tank when it is below freezing outside. Checking the oil is another essential feature to remember when heading into the winter season. Although oil should be monitored year-round and changed approximately every 5,000 miles, it is always smart to make sure it is replaced going into colder weather. Synthetic grade car oils are often suggested for the winter season, as well as aiming for 5W oil.

Following the trend of engine maintenance, the next slide will keep any vehicle running without a sweat.

Antifreeze Is Your New Best Friend

Antifreeze is an essential part of ensuring that car engines operate efficiently during cold winters and hot summers. Antifreeze acts as an additive in vehicles, which lowers the freezing temperature of water-based liquids as well as increasing the boiling point tolerance. The purpose behind antifreeze is to prevent a burst in enclosures (ie. the engine) due to expansion caused as a result of frozen liquids. Most auto engines use water and antifreeze mixture (engine coolant) for effect at extreme temperatures. An even 50:50 ratio is vital, which will work to prevent common engine issues such as eroding and freezing fluids. Antifreeze is an essential component your car cannot do without, especially in cold climate.

Car Battery

Car batteries have a lifespan of about three to five years for the average vehicle. It is essential to check the car battery approximately every six months to look for signs that it is time for a change. Telltale signs that your battery needs to be replaced may be swelling or even a sulfur-like smell. Of course, many vehicles also have a battery warning light which will indicate when a battery may need to be changed. Changing a battery is not overly complicated and is as simple as bringing the vehicle into a local shop. It is essential to stay on top of this during the winter season especially to ensure that your car is operating efficiently and will not leave you stranded or late for work.

The next tip for is excellent to keep in mind for those shopping for a new set of wheels.

Look For Four-Wheel Drive

The winter season can be tough, especially for drivers who live in the northern regions of America and often exposed to more snow and ice conditions. For drivers with four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles, the winter season may be more tolerable. Not all cars have four-wheel drive, however, as it is more commonly found in SUVs and trucks. Having 4WD allows power from the engine to be divided evenly between the front and rear axles through the transfer case, which allows equal torque to be dispersed among each wheel. Having this feature in one’s car allows the driver to move through snow covered roads much easier (especially when coupled with appropriate snow tires). However, merely having four wheel drive does not mean vehicle operators should be doing donuts in the parking lot. Precaution should still be used at all times when maneuvering your way through snowy conditions.

This next tip is sure to warm any traveler up to the idea of winter driving.

Remember To Bring Your Gloves And Blankets

Driving during the winter season is always more dangerous due to the uncertainty of road conditions and inexperienced winter drivers. However, one aspect that many forget about or do not take seriously is dressing properly for freezing temperatures. It is not safe to drive while shivering or being unable to move your hands from the cold. Therefore, drivers should make sure that they are dressed appropriately to ensure they are operating their vehicle in an efficient manner. Sometimes unfortunate things happen, whether it’s a dead battery, running out of fuel or getting into a traffic wreck. So it is crucial to make sure that drivers and passengers have access to an extra layer of clothing during the winter season. Mishaps are bound to happen sooner or later and undoubtedly make for a bad day. But having a spare pair of blankets, gloves, and pocket warmers is a smart way to be prepared in case of an emergency.

Keep An Emergency Kit On Hand

Having an emergency kit in your car is merely common sense. Many drivers are confident that they will never be involved in an accident, but no one can be sure of the capabilities of other drivers on the road. Not to mention that coming across a wreck may prove just as much of an emergency as being involved in one. In the time between the incident and emergency services arrive, an emergency kit can be used to address wounds, reroute traffic or put out a small engine fire. Regardless, it never hurts to keep one in the trunk as they often take up very little space. Safety first folks!

All drivers would be wise to take advantage of the next step to protect valuable and expensive vehicle devices.

Remember To Remove Necessary Technology

Technology makes travel on the road much more comfortable for everyone. Often, drivers will use GPS navigation, 3rd party radio systems or even auxiliary cords to make long trips more tolerable, not to mention convenient. Having a number of tech devices in the car may be helpful, but leaving them inside your vehicle for an extended period of time during the winter could be detrimental for your devices. Although there are many gadgets that can withstand a little cold for a fair amount of time, it only takes one bitterly cold night to do permanent damage to that fancy new GPS system. By remembering to bring your devices into the house or office during prolonged time away from the car will ensure that they remain in ideal shape.

Last up on the docket is a perfect way of ensuring that car interiors stand a fighting chance during the winter weather.

Purchase Proper Floor Mats

Floor mats are simply another one of the standard tips that many people forget about. Not switching to rubber floor mats for the winter can allow for cars interior to fill with salt stains and water damage. Plainly put, they are just dirty. Floor mats are specifically designed to trap water and debris in a confined mat which makes cleaning as simple as rinsing off mats with a hose. It is not essential for owners to replace carpet mats with rubber mats, but it does save time, money and effort in the long run when it comes to vehicle cleanliness.