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Getting your vehicle winter-ready: tips from experts

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A car and its systems require special attention during the cold season. Many car components and systems have to work under extra strain, due to which they can suddenly break down. To prevent this, we are giving you advice how to prepare your car for the cold season.

What should be checked in the car before cold weather sets in

  1. Battery. Due to significant slowing of chemical reactions in the freezing cold, its capacity gets on average 20 – 50% lower. The problem gets even worse because loads on the battery increase in winter due to many switched on devices. And the engine start requires a few times more energy. An old battery may fail to cope with its functions. That is why you should check the condition of this unit, preferably at a service station. Probably, it should be recharged, or desulfation of the plates performed. If the battery is worn out, it should be replaced.

A tip from AUTODOC. It is recommended to opt for AGM batteries with gel electrolyte. They are more efficient at low temperatures and more resistant to vibrations. Remember: in winter even a new battery requires repeated recharging with the help of a special charger.

  1. Starter and alternator. If the starter is broken, then the battery may discharge faster. Underperforming alternator causes constant battery undercharging, which leads to shedding of the active mass and sulfation of the plates.

A tip from AUTODOC. Regularly check the alternator belt, its tension. Cracked, worn out, oily or slack belt are the most frequent reasons of battery undercharging.

  1. Climate control system. Your comfort behind the wheel depends on the temperature inside the car. Make sure that the heater or the climate control are in good working order, to protect yourself from getting cold in the passenger compartment. For doing this, you need to check if the pipes are intact, to make sure that the pump and condenser work well, and that the air vents and radiator are not blocked. It is better to have the diagnostics performed by professionals.

A tip from AUTODOC. It is recommended to replace the cabin filter before the winter season. When it is clogged, the air circulation is hindered, which often leads to windows misting up. This problem is especially relevant in the winter season due to temperature difference.

  1. Door seals. If they are worn out, then it will be cold and wet in the passenger compartment. High humidity can cause car corrosion. Moreover, the door may freeze to the sill. That is why you should perform replacement of the rubber elements in case you noticed that seals are hardened or cracked, cold and foreign sounds enter the passenger compartment, specific creaking sound is heard from the door when driving on an uneven road.

A tip from AUTODOC. Treat the seals with a special silicone grease from time to time to protect them from temperature changes, frost and moisture.

  1. Body panels and bottom. Temperature changes, thawing agents, snow, dirt, water have a destructive impact on the car body and suspension. In spring, wide corrosion spots can be found at places where small cracks and scratches were before. Therefore, even insignificant defects should be repaired in time, especially before it gets cold. The car bottom should be treated with a special anti-corrosion compound. Chips should be painted. For the car body, polymer-based polishes are commercially available. They will   not only make the surface shine, but create a protective film on it.

A tip from AUTODOC. If you store your car in the garage, take care to prevent the temperature inside from considerably exceeding the ambient temperature: in warm conditions, thawing agents start reacting with the car coating faster.

  1. Window wiping and washing system. In winter, car windows are very apt to soiling because of slush and snow. That is why the windscreen washer and wipers must work well. Check if the jets are not clogged, make sure that rubber elements of the wiper blades did not harden and crack. Refill the antifreeze fluid if needed.

A tip from AUTODOC. In the cold season, opt for winter windshield wiper blades. Their rubber elements are made of a special water-repellent rubber that doesn’t lose elasticity at sub-zero temperatures. Metal elements are replaced with plastic ones – less apt to icing-up, – or protected with a special cover. Some models of the wipers have an in-built heating element that prevents the components from freezing to the windscreen surface.

  1. Glow plugs. Their defects can cause engine start problems. Sometimes it is impossible at all to start the engine.

A tip from AUTODOC. If one plug gets out of order, the rest are very likely to break down soon. That is why you should replace these spare parts as a kit.

What should be replaced without fail

  1. Tyres. Driving on summer tyres in winter is prohibited. That is why you should replace summer tyres with winter ones as soon as the mean daily temperature stays below 7°C for several days. The latter are made of a softer rubber mixture which remains elastic at low temperatures, and their tread has more sipes responsible for grip on a slippery surface.
  2. Oil. Nowadays, most of car chemicals manufacturers produce all-season oils. But if the vehicle is used in the area with severe climate, the lubricant should probably be replaced. For example, all-season oil of the 25W-40 viscosity grade cannot be used at temperatures below −5 °C, 20W-40 — below -10 °C. Such oils get denser in the freezing cold, which significantly increases engine wear at start, load to the starter and fuel consumption.
  3. Diesel fuel. Summer diesel fuel thickens at as high temperature as −5 °C. It cannot be used without preheating. Due to special components, winter fuel retains fluidity at −35 °C , and some types – at −55 °C.

9 accessories and agents that can urgently help you in winter

  1. Snow and ice scraper with brush. With its help,you can easily clean the windows and body from icing and snow without damaging the paintwork or scratching the windows. It is indispensable if the car is stored outdoors.

  1. Anti-misting agents. They include chemical compositions that create an invisible protective barrier on the glass surface, preventing moisture condensation.
  2. Liquid key. This is a special penetrating agent that facilitates opening a frozen lock. It is often used also for prevention of icing-up.
  3. Shovel. It is indispensable when you need to remove snow from under the wheels of a car stuck on the road. It is recommended to have 2 shovels in a luggage compartment: a square-faced and a round-pointed one. The former is convenient for cleaning large areas from snow. The latter will be necessary for removing snow or ice from under the car bottom.

  1. Tyre traction mats. They are put under a wheel slipping on a snow-covered or slippery road.
  2. Seat covers. They will protect the upholstery from dirt and will also create an additional air layer due to which the seats are felt to be warmer when you get into the car. We also recommend to buy seat covers with heating function for more comfortable driving.
  3. Jumper cables. They will help you start the engine from the other vehicle if your battery is discharged. You should choose thick wires with large alligator clips: if there occurs even an insignificant resistance in the circuit, all power goes for heating up the wire but not for the engine start.

  1. Tow rope. It will help to get out if you are stuck in a snowbank.

  1. Anti-ice. This is a chemical agent that acts as a de-icer. For instance, it helps to remove ice at the garage entrance.

Conclusion. Many defects, unnoticeable in summer, show themselves in winter due to severe operating conditions. To prevent the car systems from breakdown at the most inappropriate moment and your getting stuck away from civilization, it is recommended to have the car examined - preferably at a service station - before the weather gets cold. In fact, you can be confident of your vehicle if all its units and assemblies work well, and if the simple but useful accessories are available.

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