The beauty of winter snow storms can be breathtaking, however as beautiful as the white outs can be, they are not without their dangers. These dangers are for both you and your vehicle! You don’t want to get caught out in the cold, but you also need to take steps to save your car from the grasps of winter as well.
You Can Protect Your Vehicle This Winter By:
- Washing your vehicle frequently
- Wax after every wash
- Don’t park where deep snow banks can form
- Use a car cover
- Remove leaves and other debris
- Consider protective paint film
- Check Your battery
- Be aware of fluid levels
- Buy snow tires
- Inflate your tires
- Have appropriate windshield clearing mechanisms
What Are The Threats Of Winter For Your Vehicle?
The main threats to your car from salt and corrosion, however there are other threats that come from driving conditions. Things like ensuring you have snow tires that are properly inflated and making sure you have a battery in good condition can help to keep you and your car safe.
You should always make sure to maintain your car properly, but when temperatures are at their extremes it is especially important to make sure the car is maintained well.
Washing Your Car Frequently
If you don’t wash your car regularly, you should protect your paint. In the snow season, it is even more important to wash your car on a regular basis to remove the salt that is built up from the plows.
If you didn’t know, state departments of transportation utilize salt to help them break down the snow into liquid water by lowering the freezing point of the water. This helps to keep the roads clear. Many states have begun using a liquid salt brine to break down snow which is much more effective than the rock salt used in other places. While the brine is more effective, it is also far more corrosive than the rock salt. It is important that you rinse your car and wash the salt off.
You should wash your car every week and take extra care to wash the underside of the vehicle.
Wax Your Car
Waxing is a great way to add a protective barrier to your vehicle to help stop the corrosion. When you drive, the cars around you are kicking up the salty water on the roads, as do your own tires. Your paint will deteriorate and rust if you do not put up a layer of protection for it. As you wash your car weekly, be sure to also take the time to remove the wax from your previous wax and reapply.
Don’t Park Or Drive In Deep Snow Banks
If at all possible, avoid deep patches of snow. When your car is put into deep snow piles it adds extra exposure to the underside of your vehicle. Remember that you want as little contact with the salt water as possible so avoiding snow piles is a great way to prevent avoidable corrosion.
Use A Car Cover
Using a car cover and parking your vehicle in a driveway is another great option for preventing corrosion. If you are planning on utilizing a car cover, they make them specifically for winter if you live in a snow state. Whatever type of car cover you decide on, make sure that you get one that covers the car all the way to the ground. Especially if you street park your car, the plow will push snow into every exposed crevice which definitely includes the underside of your vehicle.
Remove Leaves And Other Debris
Leaving your car in heavily wooded and tree covered areas can pose risks as well. Not only do you have the risk of falling branches that get heavy when bogged down with snow, simple wet leaves sticking to your car can be bad for your paint. While they may seem harmless, you should remove anything stuck to your vehicle as quickly as possible. Leaves will hold salt and when they remain stuck to the car for long periods of time you give rust more opportunities to take hold.
Consider A Protective Paint Film Other Than Wax
A protective paint film is a very thin layer of clear adhesive that is applied to the vehicle to protect the paint. In summer months this may be from runaway shopping carts or flying rocks in the road. In winter, the PPF is great for preventing corrosion.
You can seek out a professional to help you apply a PPF to your car, or you can apply one yourself. However you decide to get this done, be sure to apply it to the most exposed part of your car: the side panels, hood and bumpers. You can apply to the entirety of the car, which is recommended, but be sure to prioritize these areas for best results.
Check Your Battery
Batteries are composed of water and acid. To work properly they have to have proper levels of both of these components. Batteries are important for the starting and electrical systems of the vehicle. When the temperature drops, batteries can’t deliver as much wattage as they should. If your battery is old, it’s already delivering less current than what it used to, and in winter months this can drop to a level where your car won’t start.
This can lead to some uncomfortable winter mornings if you’ve neglected your battery. A battery should be replaced every 3-5 years regardless of where you live, but before each winter season you should check your battery for corrosion. Also consider checking the spark plugs as they are another key electrical component.
If you want to keep your battery going, you’ll need to keep your car warm. Most batteries can’t handle extreme cold so utilizing an indoor parking spot is important. If you don’t have access to that, you can use a carport, car cover or just park next to a building. These small changes can make a world of difference.
Be Aware Of Fluid Levels
Your fluids struggle when the temperature drops as well. The decreased temperature changes the effectiveness of the fluids, so if you live in an extremely cold environment there are certain additives or cold effective fluids you should use in your car to keep it operating properly. If your winters are mild to moderate where you reside, just make sure the fluid levels are at a good level. If you are unsure about this, consult a mechanic to be sure your fluids are where they should be.
With regular tires, snow and ice can prevent contact with the vehicle’s contact patch and just like that you’re no longer driving, but sliding. Having snow tires for your vehicle is an easy way to prevent catastrophe while driving on icy and snow covered roads. More than that they are better for cold weather climates whether ice and snow are present or not.
So what are snow tires exactly? Snow tires, which are also known as winter tires, are those that are especially designed to drive on snow and ice. The tires have a wider and deeper tread than those of regular tires, which help you maintain traction.
Designed with a special type of rubber which offer better cold weather traction, so whether it is snowing or not you can be sure that your vehicle is protected against frigid temperatures hardening rubber. A consumer reports study showed that snow tires outperformed regular all season tires in stopping on ice by 34%. Vehicles tested with snow tires across all brands on average were able to stop six feet before the control vehicles which wore regular all season tires.
Where can I buy snow tires? Anywhere tires are sold including online! Snow tires will run you between $100 and $150 per tire for those of you with passenger vehicles, but snow tires for SUVs and trucks can be between $220 and $400 per tire.
How many snow tires do I need? This is not one of those times where you can get away with non matching tires. You need 4, one for each wheel of your car. You should not be driving with snow tires on the front or back wheels only. You want them to all be snow tires, otherwise you may have varying traction levels.
When should I put my winter tires on? The best time to put on your winter tires is a few weeks before you’re forecast to have snow. This is the recommended time frame because it’s best to be proactive, but also because you want to get used to driving with them.
Is it okay to use snow tires year round? No this is absolutely not a good idea. Snow tires are generally made of a softer rubber than regular tires. This allows them to maintain traction when temperatures drop (remember that cold hardens all materials). Snow tires are not meant to withstand the heat of a summer day and will become overly soft causing uneven wear and premature deterioration.
How long do snow tires last? An average user who’s tires are properly cared for and maintained will last between 3 and 4 winter seasons. Tire manufacturers will give an estimated usable life depending on mileage, driving conditions and how you care for your tires.
Inflate Your Tires Appropriately
With every 10 degree drop in temperatures, your tires will lose a pound of pressure. So what does that mean? As temperatures fall, your tire pressure will also decrease. This is because the cold compresses air preventing it from pushing your tires to their full round shape.
When you drive on under inflated tires it does a couple of things, the first is that it prematurely wears down the tread on the rubber. The wear and tear also won’t be even if your tires don’t have enough air in them. Underinflated tires also give you less control over steering and braking. The National Highway Safety and Administration estimates that ⅓ of vehicles on the road are driving with at least one improperly inflated tire.
Improper tire pressure is a leading cause of tire issues including blowouts. This is dangerous for you, your passengers and anyone on the road with you. Be sure to check your tire pressure every week during extreme weather months like the dead of winter and summer.
Prepare Your Windshield Wiper Blades
Windshield wipers have a tendency to get stuck frozen to your windshield if you don’t take precautions to cover them before a snow or below freezing night. They won’t do you any good if they are frozen solid to your windshield so be sure to do this at night.
Replace Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers should be replaced every 6-18 months depending on your climate and how much use your car sees. If you live in an area that gets winter weather you’re going to want to replace your blades in both spring, as temperatures are warming, and in fall, before the cold weather shows up.
The difference between snow and liquid perspiration when it comes to your windshield wiper blades is significant. Your windshield wipers will take the brunt of the force cleaning your front window when driving through snowy conditions and you want them to be in peak condition when you really need them.
You should never use your windshield wipers to clean snow or ice that have accumulated on your vehicle overnight or over a few days. This is one of the easiest ways to prevent wear and tear on the rubber.
Instead opt for a windshield scraper tool. These combo brush and scraper tools are ideal for removing ice from your windshield. They are also great for removing snow from the top of your car utilizing a retractable handle.
How Can I Protect My Car From The Snow?
It isn’t the snow that you have to worry about as much as it is the salt that has been added to the snow on the roads. So it isn’t fresh snow that you should be concerned about, but the snow that has been covered in salt by the plows.
You can protect your car from the salty slush by washing your car frequently and following the wash with a wax. You should also be careful to avoid large patches of snow as this will give your car extra exposure
So there you have it, you don’t have to let the winter months wreck your car. With these few maintenance items you can ensure that your car will last for many winters to come.
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We hope this article has answered all of your questions regarding protection in snow and ice months , and that you feel more prepared to take control of the scent of your vehicle both now and in the future. Consider protecting your vehicle with an extended warranty plan from Protect My Car. In addition to warranties, Protect My Car also offers insurance and maintenance plans and can negotiate the best prices on repairs with mechanics.