winter driving tips

10 effective winter car tips

Ten effective winter car tips

Winter can take a toll on your car causing damage and rust and ultimately incur unnecessary repair costs. You may feel tempted to leave your car at home during winter, but this causes more harm than good. Whether you are planning a road trip to visit relatives or a weekend trip, the following ten winter car tips will get your car ready for winter as well as keep you safe and your vehicle running at maximum performance during the harsh winter months.

1. Check the oil

The engine is hit hard by the cold temperature during winter. The oil thickens making it difficult for the engine to turn over. You should use multi-viscosity oil with a W in the viscosity index signifying that is formulated for winter use.

The best formulas for modern engines include 5W-30, 5W-20 and 10W-30 which have good oil flow even during low temperatures.

When changing the oil, also replace the oil filters to ensure that the system has the maximum flow. The heater and radiator hoses should also be checked for leaks, cracks or contamination from grease or oil.

Also, keep the radiator filled up with antifreeze to prevent the cooling system from turning to ice. Try to maintain the engine coolant mixture at a 50:50 ratio of water and antifreeze. Colder conditions can call for 70:40 or 60:40 ratio but under no circumstance should the antifreeze to water ratio be higher than this.

Since the transmission oil becomes thick at low temperatures, it might become hard to engage some gears until the oil warms up. If this happens, double clutching may help.

Before starting your car in mid-winter, first, leave the ignition on for about five seconds before activating the starter motor. This gives the fuel pump time to pressurize, and the car’s electrical system will also have a chance to complete any diagnostic check which saves the battery the work of performing these tasks simultaneously.

Also, do not subject the cold engine to heavy loads immediately, once it starts, allows it to idle for about ten seconds with no load, before selecting a gear.

2. Keep the battery in good shape

The car battery is also hard hit during winter. The cold temperatures significantly reduces its cranking power to almost half.

To check the condition of your car battery, remove the plastic caps and check the fluid level. If it is below the recommended level, add distilled water. If you are using a maintenance free battery, check through the window at the top of the battery.

If you have used your battery for more than five years, consider replacing as it is more likely to show signs of weakness during winter.

Turn off the electrical accessories such as heated seats, mirrors, and rear windows when you do not need them as they drain current from the battery which could be used for recharging.

3. Consider new tires

The roads are slippery during winter which calls for a good amount of tread on the tires. To be on the safe side, consider investing in winter tires or snow chains. Also, keep in mind that it is best to replace all your tires at once.

4. Avoid driving through deep water or a Winnipeg pothole

Use caution when driving through water, as unforeseen potholes can occur and a tie rod can be broken. Similarly, allowing water to soak the carpets is enough to damage the electrical components which are located close to the floor pan.

5. Top up washer fluid

Driving with an empty bottle is not only illegal but also unsafe. Therefore, always keep the windshield wash bottle topped up with the right concentration of solution.

6. Keep the exterior clean

The dirt on the paint invites rust and corrosion which is bad news for your car. Make a point of washing your car regularly during winter and be sure to direct a hose under the floor and wheel arches to remove the corrosive salty deposits. Cleaning the alloy wheels is also vital during winter so as to reduce the risk of corrosion.

7. Clean out the interior

Winter is also unkind to the interior of your car. Without regular cleaning, the damage can become ingrained leading to decreased value of the car.

Remove the litter, clean the inside windows, wipe the door sills and polish the dashboard weekly to prevent it from building up and make your winter days comfortable.

8. Take your car for an extended drive at least twice a month

If you cover only short distances, your engine may never get a chance to warm up fully, during winter. Fo this reason, you should take an extended trip after every two weeks at a speed of 50mph to give the battery a chance to recharge and the filter to regenerate on diesel cars.

9. Replace the windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers lose their effectiveness faster during winter. If you notice missing pieces or streaks, it is time to replace them.

You can increase their life by cleaning the rubber edge using a glass cleaner and paper towel.

Always allow the wipers to park and switch to the off position before cleaning.

10. Lastly, open the bonnet and check for snow that may be blocking the interiors air vents. If the car cabin becomes misted, air conditioning can help to defog it as well as maintain it in an optimum condition.

Follow these ten winter car tips to keep your vehicle longevity and reliability throughout the harsh Manitoba winter months. 

Have you read our article on 5 critical fluids now maybe the time.

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