Fortunately, keeping your car in reliable condition and avoiding a massive spring overhaul is as simple as keeping up with a few basic maintenance procedures through the cold months.
Here are some basic winter car care tips to make part of your routine.
- Ice and snow buildup on your windshield can add weight and stress. When cold glass is under stress, applying heat too quickly, simply by turning on the engine, can cause it to crack. To prevent cracking, when you get into your car, start the engine and set the defrost and fan to “low” to allow the wind shield to heat up slowly
- If you need to chip ice from your windshield, be extra careful. Excessive force or the wrong tool can damage the glass and compromise your windsheild’s integrity. Use a plastic ice scraper and a soft brush to clear the ice and snow off. If you allow plenty of time for your windshield to warm up, these tools should be sufficient
- Examine your windshield regularly. If you spot a chip, have it repaired as soon as possible, no matter how small it is. If the crack widens, the windshield could shatter at the slightest impact. Get it repaired and avoid having to replace your windshield
- Salt left on the body of your car for too long can lead to damage, which leads to corrosion. Keep up with regular washes through winter, and inspect for signs of rust. If you do see any rust forming, treat it as soon as you spot it
- To keep your vehicle’s paint job protected all winter, it’s best to thoroughly wax it before the cold weather hits. But it’s not too late to wax after a few snowfalls – just make sure to do it out of direct sunlight and give it adequate time to dry. For best results, start with a basic wash and then wax with a high quality wax and foam applicator pad and pay special attention to the area behind the wheels, quarter panels, and front grille where snow and salt accumulate
- If you’re going away and not planning on bringing the car, storing your car with a quality car cover can be a great way to protect it’s exterior from getting dirty, scratched, or rusty
- As snow tires wear, their traction is reduced. Pay attention to the tread wear indicators – a tread depth any lower than 6 mm is considered too worn. Another sign that your tires are worn: cracks appearing in the rubber. Do not risk using worn-out tires on snow-covered roads
- Maintaining proper tire pressure is an important part of winter driving safety. In winter, your tires’ inflation levels tend to change more rapidly and more dramatically, which can have a significant impact on your ability to control your vehicle on slick roads. Find out more about the effect of the cold on your tires, and how to check your tire pressure
- Slow and slush entering your vehicle can make for dirty mats and upholstery. Remove the floor mats and wash in the washing machine. While they’re drying, vacuum under the seats, dash and rear window area
- Salt can be hard on your seats, too. Vacuum up any debris in the cracks, and spot clean. Simply use ordinary laundry detergent and a sponge and spot clean, or combine a mixture of 2 Tbps. dish soap, 2 Tbps. washing soda, and 2 cups hot water. Dish soap will lift grease stains while the washing soda will refresh fabric without using chemicals.
Use these tips to keep your vehicle protected throughout the season until you can give it a thorough spring cleaning when the snow clears!