Driving in a winter wonderland does not have quite the same appeal as walking. As picturesque as it may be outside, in order to make the roads drivable, the city will put down salt, ice melt, and other chemicals.
These are great for safety, but they can take a toll on the vehicle itself. Add to that the natural hazards of extreme cold, snow, ice and the rest, it’s best to take the initiative to keep the car protected from the ravages of winter.
Keep It Clean
The first step is an easy one. Wash the car. Before the first real cold snap, wash the car with clean, soapy water or take it through a touchless drive-through car wash. This should include a wax, which will put an extra layer between the paint and the world.
Then, wash the car repeatedly throughout the season, especially after a particularly nasty snow spell. The less time those splashed-up chemicals remain on the paint and undercarriage, the better.
Give It a Once-Over
While the car is being washed, it is the perfect time to give the whole thing a little tune-up. Breakdowns and other car trouble are no fun even in nice weather, to say nothing of a blizzard or slush storm.
- Check the tires to make sure the pressure is good, the tread is nice and deep, and they are all evenly worn.
- The fluids should be checked too. It’s the perfect time for an oil change!
- Other necessities would be antifreeze and wiper fluid – better to find out the need before the moment actually hits.
- It might not be a bad idea to ask the local mechanic what else the vehicle might need, in case something has been missed.
Cover the Vehicle
If you have a garage, this is the time to use it. Keeping the car inside during the winter is not only a wise idea, it makes for much nicer mornings. Waiting for the engine to warm up away from the elements is a whole different ball game from shivering and cursing at the defroster. This might mean cleaning out the garage and making room, but wasn’t it just about time for that anyway?
If there is no garage or carport available, consider picking up a car cover. They are cheap but effective, and while they add an extra step to the in and out every day, it’s trading a big headache later away for a little one right now.
During the course of the season, keep an eye on the car. Little things make a big difference when done consistently over time. After getting home, knock off the accumulated grit and slush under the wheel wells and doors. Keep the inside of the car clean – the more gunk that’s tracked in, the harder it is on the carpets and upholstery. So, pick up a few mats and take the time to scrub it once in a while.
One last little tip. Before turning off the car on a cold day, roll the windows down a bit and let in some of that dry outside air. It just might keep the windshield from freezing up overnight!