Winter Car Care – Tips For Staying Road Ready

(Last Updated On: January 19, 2024)

Let’s talk about winter car care! When the thermostat drops, these are things you need to know to keep your car road ready.

Winter Car Care Steps To Keep Driving All Season Long

If you’re anything like me, you’re never ready for when the seasons change. And, I made the mistake of not having my vehicle road ready. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to share some winter car care tips.

After all, I would hate for what happened to me this week to happen to you. Because I wasn’t thinking about these tips, the other day when I went to start my car, it didn’t. It laughed at me and called me a Floridian – truth!

Even though I’ve been living in Kentucky for three years and am entering my third winter here, I’m still making some rookie mistakes. I don’t want you to get stranded with cabin fever this season.

Don’t Forget to Turn Your Car On!

When the thermometer takes a nosedive, starting your engine daily is clutch. I know it’s tempting to just bundle up and drive off on frigid mornings, but hear me out. Cold temperatures can do a number on your battery and fluids. Low temps drain battery power, making it way harder for your car to turn over. They also thicken up fluids like oil and transmission fluid, so components have a tough time moving smoothly. 

By starting your car and letting it idle for a few minutes every day, even when you don’t drive it, you’ll avoid major headaches down the road. The idle time charges up the battery and gets the fluids circulating properly. This makes the engine much happier to ignite when you need it. Trust me, you don’t want to be running late only to find your car won’t start!

I know it seems like a pain, but getting in the habit of daily start-ups can save you from a breakdown when you least expect it. Just bundle up with your fuzzy slippers, warm up the car for a few minutes, and then head back inside where it’s toasty. A little bit of effort goes a long way in extreme cold. Don’t let Jack Frost leave you stranded – show your car some love each day and you’ll be road trip ready when duty calls!

Give Your Car a Good Scrub-A-Dub – Washing it Regularly

Winter Car Care Looking Through Windshield at the Road

Don’t let winter’s wrath corrode your car’s finish. Salt, sand, and grime from snowy roads can eat away at the paint and body panels. Combat corrosion by washing your car frequently in winter. Give it a rinse to wash away gritty residues before they do damage.  

Take your car through the wash when roads are clear or bring it to a DIY wash bay. Be sure to use soap and thoroughly clean all surfaces. Getting a freshwater rinse helps remove salty slush that can promote rust. Waxing also adds a layer of protection. Keeping your car clean prevents the elements from grinding away at the exterior all season long. Fight winter’s attempts to weather your ride by scrubbing away grime regularly. Don’t let your car’s looks get battered by winter – keep it sparkling inside and out!

Check the Tires – Make Sure Your Tires Aren’t Going Bald!

This is an important, but often overlooked winter car care tip because when tread wears thin, winter traction suffers greatly. Check your tires regularly and replace them if the tread depth is less than 4/32 of an inch. Bald tires easily lose grip, causing dangerous skids when braking and accelerating. Don’t let your tires go as slick as an ice rink!

While you’re checking tread, examine tires for any cracks or bulges in the sidewalls too. Cold temps can cause rubber to become brittle and damaged. Also verify tires are inflated to the recommended pressure – underinflation degrades handling and snow performance. Proper inflation optimizes traction and control. 

How weather impacts tire air pressure

Frigid winter temperatures can cause the air pressure in your tires to drop. This is because molecules contract in cold conditions, taking up less space. Lower tire pressure reduces traction, stability, and fuel economy.

Winter Car Care Tires Turning on Snowy Road

Check your tire pressure frequently when temperatures take a dip. Make sure they are inflated to the recommended PSI, not the maximum on the sidewall. Top off underinflated tires to the proper level, compensating for the cold conditions. Having correctly inflated tires for the current weather keeps your car driving safely on winter roads. Don’t let your tire pressure get too low when the mercury plummets. Keep a close eye on your tires and use an accurate gauge for ideal inflation through seasonal shifts in temperature.

Give your tires the occasional poke and prod to ensure they’re in shape to stick to snowy surfaces. Quality rubber and proper inflation gives you the traction you need in slippery conditions. Don’t let worn treads or low pressure cause you to lose control when roads are icy. Stay planted with robust winter tires!

Give Your Car Some Fresh Fluids and Wipers Before the Temps Drop!

As time passes, car fluids lose effectiveness and wiper blades wear down. Make a point to refresh their condition. Change the wiper fluid to a winter formula with antifreeze. This prevents icing and keeps blades clearing smoothly. Install new wiper blades that wipe clean without streaking.

Don’t neglect fresh oils either. Old fluids can thicken in the cold. You or your mechanic should drain and replace the engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Use varieties that maintain viscosity in low temps. Topping off with new fluids keeps critical systems hydraulically happy all winter long. 

Flushing your car’s old liquids for fresh ones removes contaminants and replenishes additives. This lubricates and prevents freezing so components operate smoothly regardless of the weather. Give your car the gift of new fluids and it will keep running reliably all season long.

Make Sure Your Car is Ready to Illuminate Winter Nights – Inspect Battery and Lights

Shorter days and longer nights mean your headlights get a real workout in winter. Make sure they’re aiming true and emitting maximum brightness. Replace any bulbs that are dim or burnt out so you can light up the road. 

While you’re checking lights, pop the hood to inspect the battery too. Cold saps battery capacity so testing its charge is a must. Look for corrosion on the posts and make sure connections are tight. If your battery is more than 3 years old, have it tested for cranking amps. Don’t get left in the cold with a weak battery!

Proper lighting is critically important for safe winter driving. Make sure your car is ready to illuminate dark roads by checking all exterior lights. Don’t let poor visibility or a lousy battery stop you from driving through the darkness of winter. Keep both your lights and battery in tip-top shape!

With a Little Effort Your Car will Be Winter-Ready

Brr, old man winter is rolling into town! Now is the time to get serious about keeping your ride in tip-top shape. I know, I know – when icy winds blow, maintenance is the last thing you want to think about. But trust me, staying on top of your car’s needs will make a huge difference in surviving winter safely and stress-free. 

By bundling up and starting your car daily, washing it regularly, checking those tires, changing fluids often, and testing the battery and lights, you’ll be rewarded with a smooth-sailing vehicle all season long. Your ride will fire up easily, grip the road, and look gorgeous despite the frigid temps and snowy mess.

Don’t let frosty weather stop you from showing some love to your car! A few extra minutes in the cold here and there saves you big time breakdowns and safety issues later. And really, keeping up with basics like washing and tire checks is pretty painless. Team up with your car this winter – fight off flaky road salt and grime before it damages the paint. Keep the tank full of fresh fluids that flow easily in the cold. Check on your battery and lights so you don’t get stranded in the dark. 

With some extra TLC during winter, your car will serve you well for many miles to come. You’ve got this! Just stay consistent with care and you and your ride will be cruising along in comfort when the flakes start to fly. Let’s work together to outsmart old man winter!