How to prepare your car for the winter

October has already shown its first frost and several months of living below zero are waiting for us. Since the snow won’t stay in the sky for long, here are some tips on how to get your vehicle ready for frost, slippery and humid conditions.

Car body

Make sure to remove the summer pitch and other dirt from the car body before the extreme cold arrives. Preferably, the car should be cleaned with plus degrees to prevent excess water from freezing between body parts or gaskets. It is also important to wax the car at least twice a year to maintain the paint finish. Waxing the car ensures that the car body better repels dirt and does not pick it up too easily on autumn-winter roads.

You should also consider parking your car in a warm garage every night, as the plus degrees will at least partially melt the salty snow and ice, which in turn can lead to corrosion. Driving a car in a warm garage at night is only recommended if it ensures the car is completely thawed and dried by the time you start driving. It is best to keep the car in the shade just in winter from the snow. This prevents snow and ice from partially melting while protecting the glasses from ice formation.

In addition, it is possible to prevent the formation of rust by the fall, by letting experts apply anti-corrosion to the bottom of the car, preventing further rust from spreading. However, be sure not to choose the cheapest offer and find out how many different providers offer anti-corrosion treatments. In addition, look for feedback on work done to ensure quality.


Fuel selection

Winter is a period where the amplitude of temperature changes can be quite large. This, in turn, promotes condensation in the fuel tank. Water entering the car’s fuel system, engine, and filters can disrupt and, at worst, damage the engine’s performance.

Therefore, it is prudent to keep the fuel tank as full as possible during the winter and to avoid running with a semi-empty fuel tank, as this will prevent condensed water from entering the fuel tank due to temperature differences. In the case of diesel vehicles, it must also be ensured that the fuel has sufficient frost resistance and is suitable for use even when the air temperature drops significantly. Observe the relevant markings on the labels at the filling stations and do not be afraid to ask for help if necessary.

In addition, it is advisable to keep the fuel tank full during the winter, because if there is any part of the car that breaks down and prevents you from moving forward or just getting stuck in the snow, you can wait comfortably in a warm and running car.


Tire condition

Tires that are in poor condition can mean losing control, poor control of the car, longer vehicle braking distances and higher fuel consumption. It is therefore important to check the condition of the winter tires before putting them on. The easiest way to do this is to measure the tire tread depth. The recommended tread depth for winter tires is four to eight millimeters. Winter tires must be replaced at least every five years because, even if the tire tread depth is seemingly sufficient, the tire’s elasticity and traction can be significantly reduced and the tire becomes friable and cracked.


Purchase of used tires. When buying used tires, it is important to be clear about their actual condition: when the tires were produced, how many seasons they have been used and how they were maintained. However, we definitely recommend that you first buy new tires at a tire store.
Checking tire pressure. Tire pressure should also be checked regularly. Driving too low will increase fuel consumption and tire wear. However, even with excess tire pressure, the grip between the tire and the road surface can be reduced. The optimum tire pressure level varies by car make and model. In most cases, the recommended tire pressure is indicated on the inside of the driver’s or front passenger door.
Tire storage. It is not advisable to keep the tires in a humid place or in direct sunlight, as such conditions adversely affect tire performance: tire grip, braking, and steering are reduced. A warm basement with tires under cover is one good way to store your tires.


Battery condition

In winter, it is a good idea to check the car batteries older than 4-5 years, as this can cause malfunctions. The condition of the battery should be checked by a workshop.
Regularly check the battery’s electrolyte level, if the battery allows. Add distilled water if necessary. The electrolyte level should be 1.5 cm above the plates. Maintenance-free batteries are sealed batteries and do not require electrolyte level monitoring. Closed batteries are the most common type today.

If the battery stays idle for a long time, it is advisable to charge it first. If the battery is discharged for any reason, it must be charged with a stationary battery charger. It is not possible to charge a discharged battery with the car generator charging current.
It is also worth remembering how to charge an empty battery using another vehicle battery. To do this you need starter cables.


Seals and door hinges

To ensure trouble-free opening of all doors and hatches when cold, the seals must be dehumidified and lubricated with silicone oil. Open the doors and spray silicone oil on all seals and allow it to dry slightly. If using silicone oil in a bottle, apply oil to the cloth and grease the seals, but avoid lubricating the seat covers.

Door locks, door hinges and restraints should also be lubricated. Use fine mechanical oil for lubrication. Spray a small amount of oil into the lock hole, hold a cloth to wipe off any spilled oil, turn the key a few times to lubricate the lock hole, and then spray the oil on the door hinges and stops.

Salon and seats

In terms of interior and seat preparation, a significant difference comes in whether it is a leather or textile material in your car. Leather seats should be maintained at least twice a year – before winter and in spring. Untreated skin becomes more fragile in the cold in winter or hot in the summer and can therefore crack. The wax also protects against wear and scratches. Fortunately, car owners with textiles and contents do not need such subtle care in the coming winter, but smaller car cleaning should be done in such cars as well.

To do this, the first step is to remove loose dirt with a vacuum cleaner. Sand and other dirt will always accumulate between the seams, under the buttons, and in the pleats. The sand between the seams is a threat to the seams of the seats as it starts to wear out the threads. For leather seats, use special skin cleaners for care. Be sure not to use substances (common cleaning pastes, etc.) that contain abrasive particles. Apply the cleanser to a cloth or piece of foam, for example, and do not spray the cleanser directly onto the skin. Once the leather is cleaned, you can apply wax. Wax protects the skin from wear and makes it softer. The choice of waxes is quite wide, preference is given to waxes specially made for skins.


Windshield washer fluid and washers

The most common problem that car owners encounter with first sub-zero degrees is frozen windshield washer fluid. During the winter, a glass cleaner with a minimum freezing temperature of -20 ºC should be used. So it is a good idea to think about replacing your summer washer fluid with winter. If you are late with this, it may also be helpful to pour in the existing summer fluid after winter.

In the dark winter, the undoubted assistant is the weavers, which keep the windscreen clean. The deterioration or poor condition of the windshield wipers is indicated by the fact that the windshield wiper leaves small areas of dirt or snow on the glass. If the car already has decent weavers, there are a couple of tips during winter on how to extend the life of each one. In particular, you should avoid wiping the glass with the wiper blades when the car glass is still on ice, as the ice surface is uneven and will cause injury to the wiper blade. Also, in cold weather, it might be a good idea to make sure the windshields are not frozen on the windshield before starting. Starting the wiper blades when frozen can cause the wiper blade engines to break or damage the wiper blade rubber parts.

Condition of lights and electrical equipment

It is also important to make sure that all lights outside the vehicle are properly set and in working order at night. Check the condition of the lights at least every few days to ensure that you and your fellow occupants will not get a bad surprise if your vehicle’s stoplights or turn signal lights do not work during slippery and dangerous times. In addition, do not use all the electrical equipment in your vehicle at the same time, as during a cold period your car will not charge so quickly and may cause the battery to become tired or exhausted.

Cold weather “must” accessories:
1. Flashlight
2. Thicker working gloves
3. A small snow shovel
4. Warm blanket
5. Snow scraper
6. Mobile charger
7. Jumper cables or starting cables
8. Rope for tugging

Autolevi advises you to be careful in winter!

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