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6 tips to protect your car during winter

As hot days end, the cooler, shorter ones arrive. Then, night comes fast, there’s more humidity in the air, and — as if that wasn’t enough — rain starts.

Keeping a car under these conditions can be (very) harmful.

So now’s the time to protect your car from the low winter temperatures — even though you should also care for it during summer (only if you want to preserve your car’s good health all year round).

But there’s one thing we can’t deny: during winter, the roads are more accident-prone and cause mechanical problems in your car. If you don’t anticipate those, the slippery road’s surface can become a natural water park and compromise the safety of everyone around you (including you).

It’s possible to avoid the impact that cold weather can have on your car. And to do so, you just need to adopt the proper measures. If you don’t know them, keep reading, and uncover 6 essential tips to protect your car in winter.

Car driving on the road while it's raining

But first, here are 4 of the most common car problems in winter

We’re not going to lie: dozens of issues can arise in your car during the winter. Many drivers maintain habits from summer to winter as if their vehicle doesn’t need extra care — if you’re one of these, don’t worry because this article is just for you.

However, if you maintain these routines, it’s almost certain that your car will have problems. So, it’s essential that you know 4 of the most common car problems in winter — so you can anticipate an eventual breakdown.

1. Battery failures

What? You can’t start the car?

Chances are you can’t. And that’s because of two components in your car: the spark plugs and the battery.

The cold weather decreases the charge capacity, and the battery, in turn, overloads the starting components (the air conditioner, lights, alternator, and the starter motor) — only when you try to start the car.

This battery overcharging and the low charge capacity prevent the car from starting. To stop this from happening, don’t leave your car off for days because it’s normal for the battery to discharge.

2. Overheating

Yes, this also happens during the winter. It may sound strange, but it’s possible.

This phenomenon is related to the lubrication system. Due to the cold, the circulation of fluids in your car becomes more difficult. To avoid this overheating, you should check (frequently) the engine oil as well as the other liquids.

You can (and should) use an antifreeze liquid to protect your car from low temperatures and freezing.

3. Lack of tire grip

Quite often, tires aren’t in good condition to face the winter. To be in the desired shape, they must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6 mm — the deep parallel lines in the tread.

With wear and low temperatures, tires suffer a lot from a lack of grip (which is also why you should know how to calibrate your tires). Therefore, you should consider replacing your car’s tires with winter ones. These tires, in turn, have more grooves to ensure more grip.

4. Engine wear

There’s something (very) important you should know right away: you should let the car warm up for a few minutes before you start it — if you don’t want to compromise the engine.

At low temperatures, if you start the car and drive off within seconds, engine problems will appear. If you have a “heavy foot,” you may even cause the engine to stall while driving (right at the very beginning of the journey).

Having understood the most common problems, learn now how to protect your car during winter.

Windshield working on a car in the rain

How to protect your car in winter: 6 valuable tips

Prevent the impact of cold weather on your car and ensure that it’s safe to drive.

And how do you do that? Following our tips, of course, that will show you the best winter car protection.

1. Check tire pressure

Something you should do throughout the year, especially in winter, is check and ensure your car’s ideal tire pressure. If you drive with less than the recommended pressure, you’re more likely to skid on icy (or rain-soaked) roads.

By the way, did you know that low temperature reduces tire pressure? The temperature only needs to drop 10°C for the air pressure to decrease by approximately 1 psi. So you should check your tire pressure before starting your journey.

2. Replacing the wiper blades and the windshield wiper fluid

Here’s another essential recommendation to protect your car in winter: replace the brushes and the fluid every 6 to 12 months.

As you know, in cold months, days are cloudy and rainy. These two weather conditions affect visibility on the road. Thus, it’s essential that the wipers are new and that you always have a clean windshield (so as not to affect visibility while driving).

Besides replacing the windshield wiper fluid, you should add an antifreeze fluid to protect your car in winter.

3. Replacing the timing belt

You should replace the car’s timing belt every 100,000/120,000 kilometers — but check this information in your car manufacturer’s manual.

If you notice oil spillage on the ground, engine noises, or if you can see physical wear on the belt, be aware. In the cold season, these problems can further aggravate the condition of the timing belt, which may even burst. So get professional advice asap.

4. Check the headlights

With fog, you must have the fog lights working — so that you don’t compromise everyone’s safety on the road.

Check the condition of your headlights regularly, especially at night. And check the other signal lights’ condition, too — such as the turn signals, reversing lights, and brake lights.

5. Change the oil

Low temperatures make the oil thicker. As a consequence, the engine’s not lubricated correctly and can overheat.

During the winter, you should opt for a thinner oil; even if it thickens with the cold, it ensures that the engine remains well-lubricated.

6. Add an antifreeze additive

In cold weather, the coolant can freeze. Unfortunately, this liquid’s freezing can affect your entire car system’s fluidity — as the engine overheats.

So we recommend the following: ensure a 50/50 ratio — 50% additive and 50% water (though you should ask a professional for advice before making this decision).

Knowing how to protect your car during the winter, especially on colder, rainy (or snowy) days, is essential for its longevity. All you need to do is pay as much attention as possible to your vehicle, ensuring the proper components are well maintained.