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1 October, 2010

Winter Driving – Is Your Car Ready for the Winter Weather?

We don’t want to admit it, but winter is fast approaching.

Your car has a lot to endure during winter months – cold weather, slippery roads, salt and sand on the streets.

Make sure you read our guide to ensure your car is well maintained and you’re well prepared before setting off in the car over the winter period.

Part I

“Seeing is believing”
It’s so important that your wind screen is clear at all times.  Hands up those of you who have impatiently scraped away a tiny patch of ice before you set off in the morning?

Frosty windscreen

Photo by nedsolo

As much as time is often against us, you should allow time to clear your entire wind screen, as well as all other windows and door mirrors before starting your journey.

Here are some top tips to ensure visibility from within the vehicle is not compromised:

1. Mirrors

  • Keep a dry cloth handy and clean all inside glass and mirrors
  • Wipe the windows dry before you set out on a journey
  • Use your demisters, if your car has a heated windscreen use it early. Also, use your heated rear window to maintain your rear vision
  • Open your windows to clear the mist, if necessary
  • If your car is fitted with air conditioning, this can assist with cleaning the windows
  • The cleaner the glass, the sooner the wipers can clear the outside of the screen
  • Always keep the washer bottle topped up
  • In dirty weather conditions, clean your windscreen, windows, indicators and lights as often as necessary.

2. Wipers, windscreen, washer fluid

  • Windscreen wipers are critical to winter driving; consider installing winter wipers
  • Good visibility is crucial – don’t forget to clean your windscreen and other windows inside and out. You can use glass polish to clean the inside if smeary, but your air conditioning will help moderate condensation on cold windows
  • Windscreen washer fluid should be topped up and treated with a proprietary additive to reduce the chance of freezing in icy conditions. If the washer jets don’t spray properly, clean and adjust them.

Part II

Regular car maintenance will help it cope with the elements during the harsher months.  Here’s our top tips for protecting and maintaining your car during the winter period.

3.    Car cleaning

In this area of maintenance there are two options:

•    The good old-fashioned self-clean
•    The modern-day car wash.

Rancho super car wash sign

Photo by Kansas Sebastian

With regard to self-cleaning it is important that you have a supply of the necessary washing materials, e.g. supply of water, car shampoo, bucket, sponge, leather, a means of rinsing; pressure-washer possibly.

If you go down the route of the car wash it is important to research a few of them to find the best in terms of performance, cost and locality to home.

You will also need to vacuum the car regularly, whether this is done at home or in the same garage as the car wash.  Again it is important that the machine provides good service and is reliable.

4.    Protecting the car body

  • Winter is harsh on your car’s body; moisture, sand and road salt damage the exterior paintwork and speed up the corrosion process. If road salt is common on the roads in your area during winter, consider rust proofing your vehicle
  • It’s a good idea to wax your car before winter – wax will help to preserve the paint. Scratches and stone chips will more likely corrode after winter so touch-up or repair any damages to your car’s paint before winter
  • Remove any leaves and other debris accumulated during other seasons from under the cowl panel below the windscreen and in other areas. If left, you risk the leaves blocking water drains and collecting moisture
  • Wash your car more often in winter. Moisture, salt and dirt get accumulated inside the wheel wells, under the doors and other areas, which can often cause corrosion
  • Consider buying winter floor mats – they will help to keep the water from leaking under the car’s carpet, which could cause corrosion to the wiring and electronic components. Modern cars have a lot of electronics under the carpet.
Wax on art

Photo by ogimogi

We’ve covered how to ensure good visibility from within the vehicle as well as how to maintain your car to give it the best chance of holding up against the winter elements.

To finish, here’s our handy checklist to make sure you’re well prepared:

Materials – our checklist

With the above in mind you will be required to keep an on-board supply of items in order to continue maintaining your car so it is up to standard:

  • Cleaning cloths
  • Chamois
  • Screen wipes
  • Vacuum cleaner and/or dustpan and brush
  • Air freshener
  • Bottle of water
  • Screen wash