How to Protect your Car from Winter Weather
Winter can be a trying time for the nation’s automobiles. The changes in temperature, moisture and road conditions can all take their toll, accelerating wear and tear, and reducing performance – in some cases, drastically.
To steer your vehicle through the season, it’s worth taking a few preventative measures, whether you’ve bought the car outright, or you’re leasing it. Taken collectively, these will make a significant difference to the health of your vehicle.
Wash the Car
Washing your car is more than just an aesthetic indulgence. It’ll clear built-up salt and grit from the wheel arches and prevent it from spreading across the underside of the vehicle. These substances have a corrosive effect on paintwork and metal, and will mean that more frequent maintenance is needed. Pay special attention to your wheels.
Apply a layer of wax
Similarly, wax doesn’t just make your car look glossy and gorgeous. It’ll also add a layer of protection, prompting small particles to simply slide off rather than accumulate. Salt and grime are all over the roads during winter, and it’ll splash its way up onto the side of your car no matter how diligently you drive.
Wax can be applied by hand. Make sure that you’ve first washed the car, and then apply it using small circles, Karate Kid style. Alternatively, your local carwash might come with a wax cycle.
Check your Fluid Levels
Keeping windscreen wipers replenished is critical when the weather is cold. During cold weather, you might wish to alter the concentration of wiper-fluid and water, just so the freezing point lowers that little bit further.
Inspect for Damage
The sooner that any chips are identified and dealt with, the better it’ll be for your car. When paintwork is scratched, corrosion can begin to affect the underlying metal. Make a point of giving your car a quick once-over before getting into it, especially if you’ve been forced to park in the street.
Protect the car when you’re not driving it
If you have a garage to shelter your car in, then why not use it? Garages will provide ample protection against snowfall, hail, and rain. What’s more, they’ll keep the car warm (or at least, warmer) and thereby avoid the stress on the engine that comes with cold start.
Garages are especially worthwhile when snow is forecast. If your car’s been in the garage, then you won’t need to worry about scraping the snow off – and potentially inflicting scratches in the process.
If you don’t have a garage available, then why not cover the car with a protective jacket? These do much the same thing, and you can find some products which are tailor-made with winter in mind.
Don’t park on the street
By the same token, it’s worth avoiding street-parking wherever possible. When ice becomes a possibility, you local council will diligently send a fleet of grit-spreaders around to keep the roads clear and safe. Some of this grit will inevitably be sprayed against the side of your car. For much the same reason, it’s worth avoiding the times of day when gritters are going to be out in force – which basically means early in the morning on days when it’s not going to rain.
Of course, there are some roads which are deemed not worth gritting. Responsibility for keeping the road clear is instead given to the residents and parish councils. If you live in the countryside, you might well find yourself in this position.
Clear ice from your windscreen – the right way
The traditional means of defrosting the windscreen is to simply boil a kettle. Pour the scalding-hot water all over the glass, and watch the ice melt away. What could be simpler?
Unfortunately, there’s reason to be wary of this approach. The difference in temperature between your windscreen and the boiling water you’re pouring is significant enough to cause the glass to rapidly expand. Freeze-thaw cycles of this kind are what cause cracks to appear. If you already have small chips on your windscreen, then you’re asking for trouble.
A better approach is to circulate warm air around the interior of the car. If you’ve got a heated windscreen, then so much the better. Keep an aerosol de-icer and a purpose-made snow-scraper in your car for these conditions. Using a soft brush with a foam head or soft bristles and you won’t risk causing tiny meta
Their environmental impact is minimal compared with that of leaving the engine running while the ice melts, and a can of the stuff will cost you a great deal less than a replacement windscreen.