Winter is coming, which means it’s time to gear up for the most difficult driving season of the year. Rain, sleet, snow, and ice all work together to make it harder to drive and to keep your car in good shape.
You’ve probably heard a lot of advice about how to make sure your car survives harsh winter conditions, but how do you separate the good advice from the bad? Some of the things you’ve heard from friends, family, and Facebook might actually be sabotaging your car-maintenance efforts.
Read on to find out whether the top winter car care tips are fact or fiction. (If you missed the first part of this series, you can read it here.)
You should always have a full tank of gas
Fact or fiction? Fact, sort of.
Having enough gas in the tank is a good idea for obvious reasons: you don’t want to run out of gas in a snowstorm, and you do want to have enough gas in the tank to keep your car running if you become stuck in the snow and need to wait for help.
Come wintertime, many people will also tell you that you should always have a full tank of gas because it helps prevent water from building up and causing your fuel lines to freeze. It’s true that maintaining some fuel in your tank will help reduce the risk of frozen fuel lines; however, don’t worry if your gas gauge dips below “F.” Most mechanics recommend that you keep at least a quarter of a tank of gas in your car in the winter. Any more fuel than that is a bonus, not necessarily a requirement.
You can wait until spring to give your car a good cleaning.
Fact or fiction? Fiction.
It’s pretty safe to say that no one—except maybe the most die-hard car maintenance enthusiasts—get enjoyment out of washing their car in the middle of winter. Most people skip the car wash in the winter, figuring that it’s pretty pointless to get their car spotless when it’s just going to get dirty from the snow and salt anyway.
This is a mistake. Washing your car regularly in the winter can reduce the build-up of grit and salt that can permanently damage your car if left unchecked. Before winter hits, you can wax your car to protect the paint job. And in between snowstorms, try to get your car to the car wash.
For better traction in snowy conditions, you should under-inflate your tires.
Fact or fiction? Fiction, sort of.
This tip isn’t quite as cut-and-dry as well-meaning friends and family would suggest. It’s true that under-inflating your tires will “flatten” them, giving them more contact with the ground. And the more contact the tire has, the more traction it has.
But (and this is important), this advice really only works on sand or compacted snow. Most of the time, it’s actually better to have narrower tires so that they “cut through” the snow down to the surface of the road. Most snow tires are narrower than all-season tires for this reason. Also, if you drive on under-inflated tires at high speeds (say you’ve gone straight from an unplowed snowy neighborhood to a recently plowed highway), you run the risk of your tires overheating and exploding!
Keep your tires inflated according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, and make sure to check them periodically with a tire pressure gauge.
You don’t need snow tires.
Fact or fiction? Fiction.
Tires aren’t cheap, so it’s hard for most people to stomach the idea of spending that much money on something that will only be used for a couple months out of the year. And really, are they that much of a necessity?
In Ohio and Northern Kentucky, yes. Snow tires make it much easier and safer to drive in the winter, even when there isn’t any snow on the ground. Snow tires are made of a rubber that is designed to be more flexible and to give better traction in colder temperatures, which means that you will be better equipped to brake and turn in snow and on cold roadways.
Consider investing in a set of snow or all-season tires, if you don’t have them already.
You can extend the life of your windshield wiper blades by wiping them with vinegar.
Fact or fiction? Fiction.
Winter is not the time to drive with faulty or streaky windshield wipers, as they are a danger to yourself and others. You may periodically clean the ice off with paper towels, but when your windshield wipers have become worn, it’s time to replace them.
To keep working windshield wipers in good condition, there are a few things you can do. Don’t try to use your wipers to remove ice or lots of snow from the windshield: use an ice scraper for that, and work carefully around the wipers. (Be careful with the ice scraper: using it with too much force could chip or crack your windshield.) If you park outside overnight, leave the windshield wipers in a raised position so that they don’t freeze to the windshield.
Did you learn something new? We hope so! Jack’s Glass is here to help you stay safe this winter.
If you have a chip or crack in your windshield that you haven’t gotten around to repairing, don’t wait any longer. Winter’s cold temperatures will only make it worse. You can trust our experts to repair the damage and save your windshield.
If you need a windshield replacement, we can help with that too. We’ll even come to you! Find a location near you or call us at 859-342-JACKS (5225) to find out what we can do for you.