As the days get shorter and the weather grows colder, our cars start to need different maintenance than they do the rest of the year. Winter weather can wreak havoc on everything from the paint job to the fluids your vehicle depends on to properly function.

Car Driving in Snow

Don’t Be So Salty

Sodium doesn’t just melt ice and slugs, it can also damage your automobile if it sits on it long enough. Part of your cold weather maintenance should be running your vehicle through a car wash, especially one that will spray off the underside. John Linden at CarCovers explains your car’s metal parts can corrode after a snow when they “come in contact with precipitation water containing carbon dioxide and oxygen. Road salt contains free-radical ions and they come into contact with the precipitation water. After extended exposure to oxygen, iron oxide forms, which speeds up the rusting process.”  If you want to plan ahead, Kristen Rodman at AccuWeather suggests people can go “to a collision shop prior to the winter season to have their vehicles pre-treated with an oil solution under-spray to help fight winter road salt damage.”

Under Pressure

If your ride is anything like mine, the tire pressure light illuminates on my dash every year, as soon as the temperature drops to winter-like weather. Maintaining your automobile’s correct tire PSI is important to your fuel efficiency, the longevity of your tires, and the safety of them. The manufacturer’s recommendation for your specific vehicle is probably listed on the inside of the driver’s side door. If that search turns up nothing, you can check out your ride’s manual. Once you know the level that’s appropriate for your rubber, you can pick up a cheap tire pressure gage and check each one. Many gas stations sell them. If you hit up a convenience store that also has an air compressor, you can knock out both chores at once, after you use the gauge to figure out which of your tires are low.

Woman Scraping Window

Stay Liquid

Car fluids and the lines that move them act differently in frigid temps than they do the rest of the year. Michael W. at SmartMotorist says you can “prevent your gas line from freezing by keeping the tank as full as possible. Also, avoid using alcohol-blended gasoline during the extremely cold temperatures. The alcohol in the fuel attracts and retains moisture which can freeze in your gas line.” He also recommends using a winter suitable, lighter weight oil and to make sure you get it changed on schedule. Make sure your windshield washer fluid is the kind that won’t freeze or, if you live in a particularly cold area, get the de-icer variety.

Whether you enjoy the colder weather, or hate to see it coming, your vehicle may need some extra care in the upcoming months. Break out your novelty windshield scraper and get to work.

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