Let It Snow
Snow is a big part of winter and most people love it. It does cause problems, though. It’s cold and wet, you have to shovel it away, and it can make the roads slippery. It also wreaks havoc on your car if you don’t winterize it. Hopefully, you heeded our advice and took care of the big things already, but if you haven’t, you definitely should now.
But just because you’ve winterized your car, doesn’t mean everything’s good to see it through the Cache Valley winter. There are other things you need to do during the winter to keep your car in good condition.
1. Prevent Rust
SE Performance, a mechanic in Logan, Utah, talked about how road salt can damage your breaks. Salt and water create a reaction that speeds up the process of rusting. This rust corrodes not just your breaks, but the entire undercarriage of your car, and any other metal parts the salty slush touches.
If you want to prevent this, there are a couple of things you can do. First, regularly wash your car. After you’ve washed it, it needs to be thoroughly dried. This makes sure you wash off any salt or sand that might already have gotten on it. Finish it off with a new coat of wax. There are plenty of waxing products that include anti-rusting chemicals to help. Mechanics like SE Performance can advise you on what the best products to buy are. Some can even do it for you.
2. Keep Your Car In The Garage
Water can do a surprising amount of damage to a car. It gets into any cracks or spaces it can and then expands when it freezes. Even rocky cliff faces will break down from this expansion, and the metal of your car is much more pliable than stone. Over time, this process will bend your car out of shape, making it easier for rust-causing chemicals like road salt to get into it. The best way to prevent this keep your car in the garage. That way, your car won’t get cold enough for the water to freeze.
If you don’t have a garage, there is an alternative: car covers. Tarps and similar products can be rolled out over your car to keep water from getting on it if it snows. You’ll still have to brush the snow off, but at least it won’t get into places where it can cause as much damage.
3. Keep Your Gas Tank Filled
During the winter, keep your gas tank as full as possible, as often as possible. There are many reasons for this. For one thing, if your gas tank is full, there’s no room for other liquids to get in it. If there’s no room for water, it won’t have the chance to freeze inside your fuel lines and break something. For another, when your gas tank is full, it’s easier for your car to start. The a full tank keeps your car warmer, so it takes less energy to get that first spark to light the fuel. Additionally, having a full gas tank means you can keep your car running longer in case your car gets stuck somewhere and you have to wait for someone to come pick you up. You don’t want to be left sitting in the cold, do you? I thought not.
While topping off hour gas, make sure you keep your antifreeze filled up as well. It causes all the same problems as letting your gas tank empty out if you don’t. Fortunately, your car doesn’t use up antifreeze that much, so unless you have a leak, it shouldn’t need constant refilling.
4. Maintain Your Tires
By now, you should have switched to snow tires, or at the very least bought new ones if your old tires tread was wearing thin. If you haven’t, definitely do that now. Just because you’ve switched your tires, that doesn’t mean they’re good for the whole season. Physics is a demanding mistress, and all things shrink before her biting cold, including your tires. In less metaphorical language, when it gets cold, most things contract. That includes the air in your tires. Winter will see the pressure in your tires drop. The contraction of air molecules will even allow them to leak more. You should regularly check your tire pressure when it’s cold to make sure it’s up to the needed levels. If the pressure gets too low, it throws off your car’s alignment. That leads to all kinds of problems that are far more expensive to fix than just pumping your tires up once or twice a month.
Bonus Tip: Pack an Emergency Kit
“Be Prepared” might be a Disney villain song, but it’s not bad advice. You never know what could happen, especially on the road. If you make any long trips, you could find yourself trapped somewhere far from motel – or even a town itself. Heavy snowstorms often hit Logan Canyon and they close it off all the time. There are plenty of places up there a car could get stuck. If something like that happens, you want to be able to take care of yourself.
Pack an emergency kit, just in case. It should have blankets, non-perishable food, emergency lights, and an ice scraper at the very least. Consumer Reports has a list of things they suggest go into your emergency kit and you’d do well to look at it.
Drive Safely This Winter
This winter might be more mild than the last couple we’ve had, but long term forecasts are always hard to make accurate. There’s no telling what this winter is going to bring before it’s all over. Better safe than sorry. If you haven’t already winterized your car, it’s time to get that done. And if you have, remember these important tips if you want to keep your car in good condition over the winter.
Otherwise, the only thing to say is “drive safely!” and “Merry Christmas!*”
*Or whatever other holidays you celebrate.