Navigating the Winter Chill: A Comprehensive Guide to Vehicle Care in Cold Weather

Cars parked on road in Winter snow

As winter blankets the world in a frosty embrace, the seasonal change brings with it unique challenges for vehicle owners. From plummeting temperatures to icy roads, the winter season can wreak havoc on your vehicle if not handled with care.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore common winter issues faced by vehicles and equip you with practical tips to ensure your ride stays smooth and reliable even in the coldest months.

Cold Weather and Your Vehicle’s Engine

The drop in temperature significantly affects your vehicle’s engine performance. Cold starts can be hard on the engine, often causing sluggishness and reduced efficiency. Prevention with any winter issue is always the way forward and so we recommend that you ensure your battery condition is good before the winter season. It is important to keep an eye on the coolant levels before the winter season and top it up if it is necessary. Furthermore, it might be worth researching if your vehicle is safe for the use of a winter-grade oil and this can improve the engine’s performance in the cold weather. Additionally, make sure to research the vehicle manufacturers’ recommendations for oil changes and make sure you are not overdoing/ doing this enough.

Another quick suggestion is to, if possible, park your car in an indoor space to keep the whole vehicle warm.

The Impact on Battery Health

Cold weather is notorious for draining the life out of your vehicle’s battery. If your battery has surpassed its first year in service, it’s advisable to undergo a testing procedure before the onset of winter conditions.

Protecting Your Exterior

Winter elements, like snow, ice, and road salt, can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s exterior. Learn about the importance of regular washing, waxing, and other protective measures to shield your car’s paint and body from the harsh winter conditions.

One way preventative measures can be enforced is with your door locks and by applying a silicone-based lubricant to your door locks. However, if this is not an option, then purchasing a commercial de-icer might be the way to go. You can use a commercial deicer to melt the ice on the frozen locks and all other car items that might be frozen on the exterior.

Another issue many face during the winter season is with the vehicle windows. One preventative measure is to make sure the windows are always kept clean as dirt can attract moisture. When in the winter season, and the windows are foggy, turn on the defrost setting with warm air being directed at the windshield. This should deal with the issue.

Icy Challenges: Navigating Slippery Roads

Icy and snow-covered roads pose a considerable threat during winter. When navigating icy roads, it’s crucial to recognize that your braking distance will extend, and steering control will be notably diminished. Here are some recommendations for driving in such conditions:

  • Anticipate changes in speed well in advance to avoid abrupt braking.
  • Consider the switch to winter tyres to add more grip to your vehicle.
  • Scan the road ahead for potential hazards necessitating swerving or sudden braking
  • Maintain a generous distance between your vehicle and the one in front to prevent collisions
  • Employ higher gears
  • Drive at a reduced speed
  • Particularly slower than usual
  • Aim to avoid stopping on hills.

Black car on icy road in the UK

Emergency Preparedness

Despite the best preventive measures, emergencies can still occur. These are essential items but necessary for winter conditions. Legally, it’s required to ensure your front and rear windscreen are free of snow and ice before driving. Hence, an ice scraper and/or de-icer are excellent starting points.

When stranded on a country road in winter, a phone light isn’t sufficient for visibility. A large torch with spare batteries or a wind-up torch that doesn’t rely on batteries is crucial for your vehicle. While we often depend on phones and in-car technology for navigation, a paper road atlas can be handy in case of diversions or if you get lost.

In case you get stuck and need to call for help, having a car-compatible phone charger ensures you always have sufficient phone battery.

Flat or dead batteries are common in any car, irrespective of age and time. In cold weather, such issues are more likely. Therefore, keeping jump leads in the car is a good precaution for such occasions.

Car broken down in snow

Finally, for clothing, it’s wise to keep warm clothes for breakdowns – a substantial coat, gloves, a spare jumper, hat, and gloves. Being visible to other motorists is crucial, especially if you need to leave the vehicle in the dark. Thus, having a high-visibility vest that you can wear over your clothes makes you easily identifiable to other vehicles. Another additional item that one might wish to include in their car for the winter sun is a pair of sunglasses.

Final Thoughts

As winter unfolds its icy grasp, proactive vehicle care becomes paramount. By understanding the unique challenges that the season brings and implementing the practical tips outlined in this guide, you can ensure your vehicle not only survives but thrives in the winter chill. Embrace the winter with confidence, knowing that you have the knowledge and tools to keep your vehicle running smoothly throughout the colder months.

Have you got any other suggestions? We would love the hear them! Visit our Facebook or Instagram and send us a message letting us know if you have any other tips and tricks to save us all some hassle this winter.