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How to winter your car

The cold is upon us, and just as your pet needs certain concessions when Jack Frost visits, so does your car. We’ve rounded up the basics of freezing, and got some more advice from Richard Reina, product training manager at the online auto parts portal

Winter duties are divided into two categories: Car care and personal safety. Both are important, most will change winter driving experience. We’ll start with personal safety because that helps you and your car survive the season.


Read more: The best snow tires for winter 2022 and 2023

Every source of knowledge we know recommends winter tires. YouTube is full of videos that demonstrate winter tires performing much better than all-season tires in snow and ice. Acceleration, steering and brake improved by winter tires.

We know you paid extra for all-wheel drive so you can avoid this step. But AWD is half the winter driving equation. “Those AWD systems can provide extra traction, but they don’t help with steering or braking on slippery surfaces,” says Richard Reina. That is, AWD can transmit power to the wheel with the highest grip. If no tires grip the road, AWD is useless.

Winter tires use rubber compounds that are formulated to prevent freezing in freezing temperatures, maintaining elasticity and grip when everything else outside – like all-season tires – becomes hard and slippery . Their tread patterns are designed to clear snow and mud.

Regardless of the type of tires on your car, make sure they have enough tread and are inflated to the proper pressure. It’s a tip for year-round, not just winter.


Read more: How to change wiper blades and detergent

Windshield wipers are made of the same rubber products as tires, so consider buying winter wipers designed to stay more supple. The blade leaves a trail of mud on the windshield every time it moves which is annoying and can be dangerous.

Keep an extra set of blades in your car (ideally) or at home. Reina should change blades every 6 to 12 months, says Reina. “The 6-month regimen is best done every spring and fall.” You don’t want to wait until freezing rain starts to fall to know you need new wipers. Ask any auto parts store employee – that’s when the stampede started. Reina recommends Bosch blades like the Snow Driver, saying, “GETEam-style blades tend to work better in winter: their design makes it harder for snow and ice to accumulate.” Another good option is The Rain-X Latitude blades “introduced water resistance, doing a better job of pushing moisture out of the glass than other blades” and do not have a traditional metal frame that can freeze. For the budget option, try the all-season Aero blades that come with a six-month money-back guarantee.

And a reminder from Reina, “Don’t forget the rear wipers on wagons and SUVs.”

When you’re at the auto parts store, spend a few extra bucks on a few bottles of car wash and keep your car’s fluid reservoir full.


Wasn’t 12 months ago I was sitting by the highway in my Corvette after a snowstorm. I broke the unwritten law about riding in the wrong car, as well as the law I just wrote about having Tires for traveling on snow. I also don’t have any safety equipment in the car and only have a quarter of the gas tank. My plan – the only one available – was to sleep in the two-seater for 36 hours, running the engine intermittently, until the weather was warm enough to thaw the road.

Don’t be like me.

Pack a small duffle with items that can make two people shelter in place in a car for 48 hours. Necessary items are blanket or sleeping bag, hat and gloves, energy bar, canning and can opener, first aid kit and phone charger. Water is always a good idea, but only fill any container halfway; You need to leave room for the frozen water to expand. Don’t use a thermos, it will want to keep any frozen water frozen. To complete the prep, add flares, triangular reflectors, a protective vest, and a foldable shovel. If you have an older car with a mechanical lock, a glycerine de-icing machine isn’t a bad idea as long as you can leave it outside the car.

You should always have an ice scraper with a brush. And please shave your headlights, taillights and hood too! You should always carry a jumper cord, flashlight, spare fuse, small funnel, tire pressure gauge and spare key hidden outside of the car year-round.

Those are personal safety tips. Good grip and visibility can be life-or-death year-round, but especially in winter. Now for car care tips.

Car Battery Repair - Connect Jumper Cable


Your car is 12-volt the battery reaches maximum capacity when the ambient temperature is around 80 degrees F. Output decreases with the same temperature as with tram battery, so the battery works more in winter to start the car. Check your battery to make sure it’s providing the proper voltage while spinning and in standby. And spend five minutes cleaning the terminals if they are corroded.


Read more: How to change your engine oil and filter

Oil thickens in cold weather, forcing the battery to work harder to start the car. Solid oil also takes longer to get into the places where it needs protection, and most engine wear occurs at start-up. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations on which oil to use at which temperature range. Some manuals recommend switching to lighter weights in cold climates.

If you drive a car diesel oil and you’re a 15W-40 user, your engine will thank you for changing to a lighter weight oil even if you use block heaters. Make sure that the differentials and transmissions are filled with their recommended oil.

While you are in the manual, check cooling water Recommended, too.


Unless you live in a place that doesn’t get snow or where the snow removal team uses sand instead of salt, wash and polish your car before winter arrives and car wash regularly throughout the winter. The combination of water, ice, ice and salt acts as a sandpaper solvent on metals and paints. If you use an automatic machine car wash, wasteful on washing the undercarriage. The resale value of your car and your bank account will thank you.


Diesel fuel contains paraffin wax. As the mercury drops, the wax begins to solidify, turning the fuel from waxy to opaque or gel depending on temperature. Diesel also has a higher water content than gasoline, so at freezing temperatures ice crystals can jam the fuel filter or water separator if fitted. Put a little fuel additive in the tank before the temperature hits the floor.

Regardless of gasoline or diesel, try not to let the gas tank be less than a quarter full, at worst.

If you plan to lock your car in the winter, Reina recommends using a stabilizer. “Vehicles that are stored for four to six months will have stale fuel inside when driving season comes again. Using a fuel stabilizer will help keep the fuel from clumping.”


Read more: Cold weather can wreak havoc on EV range, but these electric cars do the best

Range will suffer during winter, it’s inevitable. Maximize what the battery can offer by using your pre-conditioning features while the EV stays plugged in. Small steps like treating your windshield with defrosting and defrosting treatments can reduce the amount of time you need to use your defrost device while traveling – saving an average 7-kW of consumption. consumption on battery and boost range.

If it’s easy for you to pull into a charging space while you’re running errands, do so, even if you have plenty of range left. EVs can use grid electricity to keep the battery and interior warm. And don’t let the battery drop below 20% if you can avoid it.

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