The colder months are approaching, and with it, winter car maintenance. With higher-end and performance vehicles, there are a few steps owners must take to keep their cars in good shape and themselves safe while on the road. Whether you’re planning to put your car in storage or drive it year-round, there are a few key things to consider to keep your car in its best condition.
If you’re putting your car in storage for the winter, there are a number of things you should consider so you aren’t dealing with headaches come spring.
- Cleaning – Before storing your vehicle, and especially before putting a cover on it, you thoroughly clean the interior and exterior. If you’re worried about unpainted metal portions of your vehicle rusting, you can spray a protective coat of rubberized undercoating in those areas. If you’re worried about maintaining the condition of your vehicle, you can use WD-40 in place of rubberized undercoating. When using sprays and chemicals, always be wary of any exhaust or hot areas, as certain chemicals and sprays are highly flammable. If you intend to steam-clean any portion of your vehicle, do so far enough in advance of storing so that moisture doesn’t cause mold.
- Car Cover – Also be sure to clean the exterior of your vehicle before putting the cover on. If you’re storing your car outside, be sure to check that it’s a waterproof material and that it’s secured properly. You’ll want a cover that is breathable and keeps out moisture and won’t damage or scratch the paint. Be sure to remove anything from the vehicle that doesn’t need to be there, or that you need (like phone chargers, clothes, etc). You won’t want to keep taking the cover on and off just to grab things.
- Rodents – Mice and other small animals love to cause trouble, especially where you don’t want them to. There are a few ways to protect your vehicle from these buggers. One option is putting dryer sheets throughout the interior of your car or using mothballs in socks instead. Mousetraps work well but be mindful of where your car is being stored. Do not use mouse traps inside the vehicle or if you have pets, as mouse traps can poison your animals.
- Tires – Before storing your vehicle, make sure to inflate your tires. It’s advisable to even inflate them to higher air pressure, but be careful to not exceed the maximum air pressure that’s listed on the side of the tire. Due to time and temperature, it’s not uncommon for tires to deflate over time. Be sure to check for leaks in your tires prior to storage. Failure to do this could result in your vehicle kneeling its rim.
- Fluids and Battery Health – Using a fuel stabilizer will help avoid corrosion in your fuel lines and engine. Ethanol-blended fuels only have a shelf life of three months, so if you’re storing your vehicle for longer than that, it’s important to use a fuel stabilizer. You should also check the vehicle’s oil, oil filter, and fluid levels. After topping off fluids and adding the fuel stabilizer, take one more ride around to allow the new fluids to circulate. Your car’s battery should be removed and stored, or connected to a trickle charger or battery tender. If using a battery tender, check to make sure it has a float mode or automatic shutoff so your battery doesn’t get overcharged. Doing this will help keep your battery in good health.
Winter Maintenance Tips:
Experienced drivers are no stranger to the stress that can come with driving during the winter months. Make sure the only thing you’ll need to worry about is other people’s driving when it snows, and not your car’s ability to handle the roads!
- Battery Health – Check your vehicle’s battery occasionally. While you should always be aware of your battery’s charge, this is especially important in the winter, since getting stuck on the road could be dangerous in low temperatures. The winter months can take a toll on your battery, so it’s important to take all necessary precautions.
- Replace Wiper Blades – Keeping an eye on your wiper blades shouldn’t be something reserved for winter. Not only should your blades be in working properly, but you should also check that your fluid is at a good level. Some wiper fluid doesn’t perform well in cooler temperatures, so double-check which fluid you are using.
- Check the Oil – To have peace of mind that your vehicle will perform well in the winter, proper oil maintenance is key. Your oil should always be changed on par with the schedule provided in your owner’s manual, but especially in the winter months.
- Tires – Using winter tires on your car is highly recommended in states where you’re going to be dealing with winter weather. These tires are designed with deep tread and tire edges to keep your vehicle stable as your drive through snow and ice. If your vehicle currently has sport tires, their shallow tread will render them basically useless at the slightest sign of snow. If you are driving anything other than a four-wheel-drive vehicle or SUV, it’s highly recommended you get winter tires.
Maintaining your car properly, whether in storage or on the road, during the winter is something that shouldn’t be overlooked! Keeping an emergency kit in your car to prepare for anything that may happen is also a good part of your winter preparation. For ideas on what to keep in case of emergencies, check out our other blog here.