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Maintaining your car in the winter

Updated on December 6, 2015

With Winter now officially here, it’s important to remember that at this time of the year that you should still be maintaining your car to make sure that everything runs smoothly with it. This is not just related to the body work, but also to other parts of the car as well.

A clear view

One of the most crucial things you should be doing during the winter is making sure that your wiper blades are of satisfactory quality. Over time, the rubber on the blades starts to degrade and when this happens you get the characteristic smearing effect which results in a marked reduction in visibility.

When it comes to changing your blades, you can either do this yourself and buy replacements online or you can go to your local auto store and they’ll sell and fit them for you there and then. It’s not difficult to change the blades, although they might be a bit stiff to get off depending on how cold it is and how long they’ve been on the car for. Making this simple change to your car though will not only make the drive safer for you, but for others around you as well.

Take care of your tyres

You should also pay close attention to your tyre pressures during the winter. The road conditions are less than ideal, and if a tyre has lost pressure and in turn becomes under-inflated then it reduces the effectiveness of its grip on the road. In the event that you had to go into a skid, having under-inflated tyres could make the situation a lot more serious.

You can easily monitor your tyre pressures by using a small hand gauge. These come in all shapes and sizes as well as costs. However, it’s always better to spend that little bit of extra money to get the most accurate reading possible. You’ll then be able to know by how much you need to inflate your tyres by, be it when using a foot pump or a compressor.

You should also make sure that you have the legal tread depth on your tyres. These depths have been based on thousands of safety tests and in the winter you'll need as much grip on the road as possible.

Always be prepared

You’ll also want to make sure that you have warm clothes and a blanket packed away in your car. Whilst you may only be planning to use the car for short journeys, you never know what might end up happening and if you’re stuck in traffic jams or if your car breaks down, it might take quite a while until you’re able to get home.

By having plenty of supplies in your car, you’ll be able to stay warm and not have to worry about things like hypothermia. You should also carry a flask in your car so that you’ve got something hot to drink. This can easily be refilled before you leave work at night time should the worst happen.

Giving the car a soaking

Now it’s time to discuss what you can do to protect the exterior of your car during winter. One of the biggest dangers to any car during winter is the amount of salt on the road. Of course, salt on the road is a great thing because it helps to melt the ice away.

However it is also a hindrance to the car since, when driving on a salted road, you will inevitably be collecting this salt and grit in every last crevice of the car. This includes the underside of it which can easily rust, as well as in the brake system, the wheel arches and also your alloy wheels. No matter what the area is, none of this is particularly pleasant for your vehicle, and it’s not something that you should be leaving on the car for long periods of time. Doing so can result in corrosion of your vehicle.

To prevent the build up of it, a simple running down of these parts with a hose/jet washer should suffice. For those that don’t have access to free flowing water (such as those living in a block of flats), jet washers at petrol stations and some supermarkets would be an ideal work around. Just please never take it to a car wash for the simple fact that it won’t get into the hard to reach areas, but it will leave scratches on the paint work as per the nature of these car washes.

You should also be washing the body work periodically since the salt and road dirt laying on it can result in degradation of the paint. The paint on your car is just like your skin; it’s porous and you need to wash it, but also protect it.

Adding a real level of protection to the car

It can be really tough to wash your car in the winter, but it’s even more crucial to take care of your cars exterior in the winter than it is in the summer, and that means avoiding taking it to those drive through car washes, or those cheap hand wash car washes where the use the cheapest shampoos and the same sponge on every car that comes through. There are many excellent car shampoos, from Autoglym to Meguairs, it all really depends on your own personal preference.

However in the winter months, it’s also essential that to help protect the paint work (in part due to the fact that you won’t be able to wash it as regularly as you would in the summer) that you use a sealant and maybe a wax over the car after it’s been dried off.

The sealant will provide you with a strong barrier between the clear coat in the paintwork of your car and the elements, which will give you a great deal of protection. All sealants are man made and contain numerous polymers designed to help protect the paint work of your car (and can also be used on the spokes of your alloy wheels).

You might however not get the best shine from sealants, which is where a wax would come in handy since this will add extra shine to the paint work. When you’re washing, sealing and waxing your car, you should do it like this:

Note that there are two layers of sealant. Sealant is meant to bond either directly to the car, or to its companion polish and wax will in turn bond to the sealant although wax can also bond directly to the paint work/polish. However, if you applied sealant to your car, and then wax, you can’t then apply another layer of sealant on top of the wax since the sealant can’t absorb itself into the wax, but wax can into the sealant. It’s a tad convoluted but its best to know this just now before wasting time and money on incompatible products.

Thank you

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