Oh the Weather Outside Is Frightful: Car Care Tips for Winter
by Ned Lewis
We’ve been lucky so far, but trust me Winter is coming. For commuters this means one thing: trying to survive Pennsylvania’s pothole ridden, ice and salt encrusted roads.
Fear not, there are some things you can do to better the chances of you and your car making it to spring unscathed.
First, start preparing now. Pop into an auto repair shop and have some good winter tires put on. Tires with good tread give you better grip and traction. This makes all the difference in the world when trying to come to a stop at a snow covered intersection.
Get your battery tested while at the shop as well. Car batteries are much more likely to fail in cold weather. Don’t forget to stock up on antifreeze for your windshield too.
Car performance is not the only automotive winter woe to contend with. One of the worst things about winter driving is how long it takes to get going in the morning.
Most of us don’t have a garage to park our cars in. During winter we have to set aside twenty extra minutes every morning to excavate our cars from their icy tombs. There are a couple of things you can do to greatly reduce the amount of time you spend scraping ice with cracked and bloody frost bitten fingers.
If you have some cash to spare, around $200, pick up a car cover This will mostly stop the windows from icing over and the snow will quickly slide right off.
If this isn’t an option, spray your car windows every night with two parts rubbing alcohol one part water. This will keep ice from accumulating.
Never use hot water to clear the ice from your windows. Not only will the water re-freeze very quickly, there is also a good chance your windshield could crack because of the sudden temperature change.
Also, before you set off in the morning ,make sure you allow your engine to idle for at least a full minute. Driving off as soon as you start your car causes engine components to wear out more quickly.
When driving on a poorly plowed road, a good rule to keep in mind is try and do everything you would normally do in slow motion. Begin breaking much earlier than you usually would and increase your following distance.
Remember that bridges will accumulate ice long before the roads do, so be extra careful when crossing. If you do hit an ice patch and you begin to slide DO NOT try to steer out of it. This will almost certainly make you spin, especially if you’re moving quickly. Instead let off the accelerator and try to control the slide. Don’t fight the car it will just make it worse.
If you do wind up stuck in a snow drift don’t spin your wheels. You’ll only dig yourself in deeper. Instead clear away as much snow as possible from around the wheels and put cat litter or sand in its place for better traction.
If you can’t get out clear any snow or debris from the exhausts and get back into your car. It is very important that the exhausts are clear before you run the engine as they can back up into your car and cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Finally, protect your car with a good coat of wax and visit a car wash at least once a week. Remember that road salt is highly corrosive. Without a wash, cars can begin to rust.
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