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Vehicle Maintenance in Winter

Published on January 28, 2022


Winter tends to wreak havoc on automobiles. These tips will help you keep your car in good condition for as long as possible while protecting it from snow, sleet, salt and sand.

Get Rustproofing

Keep rust at bay! Corrosion is a threat to all vehicles that drive in snowy conditions. Between winters, give your car the antirust treatment it deserves. There are several types available on the market: semi-liquid or semi-solid oil, grease, permanent rustproofing and electronic rust protection. The price will vary depending on product and garage. Refer to a specialist to know which option is best for your vehicle and budget.

Regular Carwashes

Icy road conditions call for salt and sand. Unfortunately, constant exposure to these elements increases the risk of developing rust problems. This is why experts recommend going to the carwash once a month.
However, be sure to go when the weather is mild. Avoid going when it’s -40 Celsius. This could cause other problems, like frozen doors and locks. Go when the weather forecast calls for near 0 temperatures. Be sure to also remove all calcium build-ups from your vehicle’s undercarriage. This is the part of the car that is most exposed.

Use a Lock Defreezer

Always keep a liquid defreezer on you—just in case. If your car has a remote engine starter, use it to turn it on. As the car heats up, the locks should unfreeze. If the only way to open your car door is with a key, then a defreezer is what you need.

Take Care of Door Seals

The rubber used in door seals can be damaged by the cold. To preserve it, apply a protectant before winter.

Change Wipers

Install winter blades because their tough tensile strength allows them to more easily sweep ice and snow off the windshield. To keep them in good condition, remove them during the summer months. The heat will wear them unnecessarily. Install them when the cold sets in, ideally.

Change Wiper Fluid

There is a difference between summer and winter windshield wiper fluid—it’s not just a marketing ploy. Though they both essentially serve the same purpose, winter windshield washer fluid won’t freeze on the glass in cold temperatures. It is therefore safer when driving in such conditions. Some fluids work in temperatures as cold as -45 Celsius!

Always keep some in the trunk of your car.

Add Liquid Coolant

Often referred to as PrestoneTM, this anti-corrosive liquid helps stabilize your engine’s temperature, regardless of the weather. It also reduces calcium build-up.

Experts recommend checking coolant levels twice a year. Be sure to empty the tank and replace the liquid every 32,000 to 240,000 kilometres, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations and the type of product used.

Battery Checks

Check the charge on the battery and make sure it is properly connected and in good condition. In the cold, a battery that is unable to maintain its charge will cause ignition problems. To recharge it, drive your car for at least 20 minutes at a time in extreme cold. If you don’t use your vehicle very much, then consider buying a battery booster.

On average, batteries have a five-year life span. Change yours when required.

Listen to the Motor

Install a block heater to heat the liquids in the engine. This will make sure you can start your vehicle in the coldest temperatures. It can even help you reduce the amount of gas used during ignition. It will also increase your comfort level by allowing your vehicle to warm up faster.

Monitor Tire Pressure

According to Transport Canada, tire pressure drops approximately 7 kPa or 1 lb/in2 for each five-degree drop in temperature (Celsius). Inflate them when necessary. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Keep a Full Tank

Make sure your fuel tank gauge is always on F. That way, you’ll never be worried about running out of gas when driving in harsh conditions like a snowstorm or extreme cold.

Install Winter Floormats

They resist better to the snow and salt you bring into the car on your boots. Over time, the melting slush creates calcium build-up and eventually leads to rust and holes in the undercarriage. This is why you should change floor mats seasonally.

The Right Snowbrush

Finally, buy a quality snowbrush that won’t chip the paint or windshield. If you drive a large SUV, get one with a telescopic handle to make it easier to remove snow from the roof. Most come with a brush and scraper, but some come with a high-grade polyethylene foam face. Your selection will depend on your budget and needs.

You and your vehicle are now ready to take winter on! These tips should help you keep your car in good condition and driving safe. For more information on vehicle maintenance in winter, refer to a mechanic you trust.