Winter is a season that has traditionally proved to be very stressful for car owners. Putting aside all the hardships that come with sleet, snow-clad roads and low visibility, as soon as the temperature starts dropping, the cars seem hell-bent on taking early retirement. Well, there is very little we can do about winter – it is what it is.
What we can do is take a couple of measures to keep our vehicles running smoothly and safely, as well as prevent common winter breakdowns that can damage their market value. Let's take a look at a couple of the most important tips.
Do occasional tire pressure checkups
We don't know if you ever heard of this issue, but during the winter months, your tire pressure loses 1 PSI for every 5-degree temperature drop. This may not sound like much, but a couple of sharp 10-15 degree drops can leave your tires noticeably deflated which, in turn, has its effect on braking, handling, tread life, and even fuel economy (your vehicle spends less fuel with better traction). So, the first thing you should do to up the maintenance ante is increasing the frequency of tire pressure checkups.
Use season-appropriate fluids
Some of the fluids you are using in your vehicle may be water-based which makes a very poor couple with cold winter months. Take, for instance, the windshield washers – spray them on the ice-cold glass and you will render your vehicle useless. To avoid such situations, check the labels of all the liquids you are using and change the ones that aren't suitable for the winter. All-season products may serve as a good replacement, but only if they show the lowest temperature they can handle (ideally -45°C).
Take care of the fuel injection
Low temperatures aren't only messing with the performance of car fluids – they are affecting the fuel as well. The colder the fuel is, the less efficient the process of injection becomes, and, as you can guess, the performance of your vehicle suffers as a result. Do your best to prevent this from happening and replace your unit with something in the vein of the Walbro 460 high-pressure fuel pump that has proved to work quite well (efficiency increase goes all the way up to 20%), even on lower temperatures.
Keep the battery alive
Every battery has its lifespan of about four years. Cold temperatures tend to cut this lifespan shorter. So, if your car battery has already entered its fourth year, you should strongly consider a replacement. Otherwise, do whatever you can to counterbalance the low temperatures outside (keep the car in the garage overnight, park it in sunny spots, etc.). Also, be quick to react on the first signs of corrosion with a wire brush. Clean connectors can go a long way in improving the battery’s overall performance.
Clean the car as thoroughly as possible
This requirement goes way past aesthetical considerations. The salt that can be found on the winter roads (hopefully) has a very nasty habit of latching on to the car frame, making it weaker and even rot prematurely. If you plan on selling your vehicle somewhere in the near future, this is probably the worst thing that can happen to you. The best way to fight this problem is to give the car a thorough cleaning after each ride (pay special attention to the undercarriage). Occasional wax jobs can do you no harm, either.
Help your fuel lines stay unfrozen
When your fuel tank is empty, the difference between the external and internal temperature will inevitably cause water condensation. That moisture later enters the fuel lines where it freezes and effectively prevents your vehicle from starting. So, the easiest way of preventing this problem would be to always keep your tank at least half-full. Since we are perfectly aware this can be a tall order, especially during the winter, adding a fuel additive into the system should serve as good enough of a backup solution.
We hope these few tips will help you to keep your car in good shape until the snow finally melts. Winter and vehicles never made a particularly fortunate match. As a result, cars tend to sustain quite a lot of damage during these couple of months. This simple fact doesn't only destroy the vehicles' market value but also makes the traffic far less safe for everyone. Let us do our best to avoid either of these outcomes.