Whether you own or are leasing your car, it's crucial to take the time to maintain the vehicle throughout its lifetime with you properly. Without the proper maintenance, your car will start to wear down faster, show its age easier, and lose its value much quicker. This is especially true for those who live in changing climates. For example, summer and winter car tips will differ drastically for those living in different climates. So, if you're living in an area that's preparing for a cold, snowy winter, you'll want to educate yourself on winter care maintenance tips to help you properly care for your vehicle this season.
Why Winter Car Maintenance is Crucial
Winter car maintenance is absolutely vital not only for the car but for those who ride inside it. Frigid, snowy winters can be especially brutal on cars, causing issues such as:
- Malfunctioning parts due to liquids freezing
- The rapid deterioration of your car's exterior from excessive salting of the roadways
- Unexpected tire pressure drops
- Corroding parts from excessive moistures
- Failing spark plugs
- Battery dying, etc.
If any of these things should happen when the car is in motion, it can spell disaster for unprepared individuals.
5 Must-Know Winter Car Tips
It doesn't matter if you're new to car maintenance or a seasoned driver – it's always a good idea to refresh yourself on winter car maintenance dos and don'ts. Not quite sure where to start? Here are five absolute must-know winter car tips:
1. Swap Your Car Tires
While many cars are stocked with all-weather tires, some people can benefit greatly from making a change to winter or "snow" tires during the colder weather months. These tires come in several variations, including:
- Studded winter tires: Tires that have metal studs embedded in the tread, which allows the tire to dig into compacted ice and snow to provide the car with necessary traction.
- Studless winter tires: Tires that rely on rubber compounding and tread design advances, allowing them to be more flexible in colder temperatures and ensuring traction.
Depending on where you live, you may be required to wait until a certain time to swap your car tires, and some studded winter tires may be against local law. So, make sure you check with your local department of motor vehicles to ensure you are following all guidelines.
2. Check Your Car's Battery
It's not uncommon to forget about your car's battery; that is until your car won't start or dies during your driving. Cold weather can wreak havoc on your car's battery because the frigid temperatures can slow down the chemical process that runs the battery. That means the colder it gets, the less power your car's battery can produce.
During your winter check, make sure to have your battery's health tested. This is done by connecting a multimeter to your battery when the car is turned off. If the device reads a 12.45 or greater, your battery is considered "healthy." If it reads lower, then you may need to consider replacing it.
3. Check your Car's Fluid Levels
When the temperatures start to plummet, the fluids in your car can start to thicken or freeze, leading to numerous potential issues. That said, you want to check your:
- Brake Fluid
- Motor Oil
- Transmission Fluids
- Windshield Wiper Fluid
Additional Tip: You'll also want to keep your gas tank full to prevent getting stranded out in the snow.
4. Check Your Windshield Wipers
Your windshield wipers are another crucial aspect that you'll want to inspect during your routine winter car maintenance. Unfortunately, not all windshield wipers are created equally, and while some do claim to be all-weather, there are specific types of blades that can prove more beneficial in the snow than others.
For example, conventional windshield wiper blades are built with a lighter frame, making them smaller. However, these lighter frames don't perform very well when it comes to wet, heavy snow. The snow's weight can easily crack these fragile frames, making them useless to you while on the road.
Another reason conventional windshield wiper blades are not suitable for the winter is that their hinges are often left exposed to the elements, meaning they are at a much higher risk of rusting and corrosion. Ice can also accumulate in these hinges, and if you don't know that before you go to use them, the hinges can easily snap.
5. Be Prepared
You never know when disaster might strike, which is why it's vital to be prepared. All drivers should have some sort of roadside emergency kit in their car that includes items such as:
- Blankets/Space blankets
- Battery booster cables
- An ice scraper
- A basic first aid kit
- A portable shovel
- Necessary items for a flat tire
- Reflective markers
- A cell phone charger, etc.
If you think you may need it in the case of an emergency or an accident, then you should include it in your emergency kit.
Take Time to Invest in Winter Car Care
These winter car tips are only the tip of the iceberg for those looking to properly maintain their car through the winter months. You'll also want to make sure you have extra fluids on hand should you run low, store your car indoors or in a garage if feasible to help keep the components warmer, and be careful how you wash your car during these months to not cause any unnecessary deterioration to your car's parts or exterior.
Your car is an investment – treat it well with the right winter car care.