Getting Ready For Winter: What to Know and What to Have in Your Car
When the first cold weather comes, drivers install winter tyres, change their driving style and a set of accessories in the trunk. What should you remember about winter and how to prepare your car for the cold weather?
What to put in the trunk?
Years pass, gasoline and diesel cars in the sales ratings are replaced by electric cars, but the list of accessories that should be in a car trunk in winter does not change.
It is no secret that in winter, at near-zero temperatures, when public roads are actively sprinkled or watered with artificers, the consumption of washer fluid increases significantly. Drivers joke that sometimes its consumption is even more than gasoline. Therefore, it would be a good practice to have half a liter or a liter of winter washer fluid in your trunk.
Don't forget about a scraper. Heating of front and rear windows do not always help. When idling with several consumers turned on, the battery drains heavily, therefore it is better to clean off the snow and ice manually, and only then use the heating.
Also put a defroster in the trunk. The alcohol-containing liquid penetrates into the micro-cracks and defrosts the ice layer entirely in a few minutes.
Check if you have a tow-rope in your car. Also check the locations where the towing eyes are to be mounted (you can put them in the trunk). Maybe you personally don't need a tow-rope, but perhaps you can help someone to get out of the "snow captivity".
Car lighting wires
If your car's battery is more than 2 or 3 years old, then, with regular use in a big city in winter, we recommend having a pair of power wires in the trunk. They will allow you to "light" a car from another car and start the engine. But just starting the car is not enough. It is necessary to recharge the battery by yourself or at a service station as soon as possible. Otherwise, complete discharge with the inability to start the motor may happen again in the near future.
It would also be prudent to have a small snow shovel or digging tool in your vehicle. You require it to make a small "path" in the parking, or to dig out a snowdrift that has frozen under your car over the night.
Climate change brings us not only global warming, but also sharper changes in weather. This is confirmed by heavy snowfalls in Ukraine in winter 2020-2021.
Paper towels or napkins
If your car's front window heating does not function very well, then make sure you have paper towels or cotton napkins. They quickly absorb and remove moisture from the window during fogging, while leaving almost no streaks.
Optional: snow chains and food
In cities and on highways, snow is cleared quickly. But if you regularly travel to remote areas in the mountains or countryside, then it’s better to have snow chains. We recommend that you practice in advance how to put on the chains on the wheels.
When you are going on a long trip, and the weather forecast promises snowfalls, it is good to have some kind of non-perishable food items with you: energy bars, snacks, etc. Also, don't forget the water. Heavy snowfalls on highways often cause heavy traffic jams.
What to check and replace?
Try to keep the fuel tank always full or close to the maximum value. Even the lowest fuel consumption cars at idle with the heater running consume about 1 litter of fuel.
The most important factor for safe driving in winter is the timely replacement of summer tyres with winter ones. General recommendations state that it is necessary to change "summer" to "winter" when the average daily temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius, because at temperatures lower than + 7 ℃, the grip properties of summer tires become significantly worse.
But this rule has some clarifications:
- For example, if you use a car mainly at night, when it is colder outside than during the day, then you need to replace tyres earlier, as soon as the night temperature starts to drop to 5-7 degrees.
- If you drive during the day or rarely use a car at all, then just choose a day with good weather, and replace tyres in advance.
- It is much more convenient to keep both sets of tyres on the rims. This significantly saves both time and money.
Winter windscreen washing liquid
During the cold season, the load on many systems of your car increases. Therefore, you need to take care of something in advance. Before the first night frosts, you need to change the summer washer fluid to the winter one. It cannot be drained from the tank, so you just need to "sprinkle" the liquid on the front window and after emptying the tank, pour a frost-resistant agent. If this procedure is neglected, the tank may "freeze" or the electric pump for supplying fluid to the nozzles may fail.
The status of windshield wipers is important for visibility. In warm weather, wipers can leave streaks and smudges due to the loss of their elasticity. In winter, this can cause 2-3 centimeters wide "blind spots". It is worth thinking about replacing the wipers in advance.
Car battery (accumulator)
Be sure to check the battery before the cold season. Better to visit an electrician. You can also do it yourself using a tester and a load plug. It is important to check the following:
- Residual capacity;
- Voltage under load.
If these values do not meet the standard, then the battery needs to be replaced or at least recharged. In cold weather the load on the battery increases and at low speeds the generator does not have time to replenish the energy spent by external consumers: all kinds of heating, audio system, lighting, etc. Therefore, if you do not check the battery, then one cold morning you will not be able to start the car.
Take the time to check all external lights. Visibility on the road iks one of the main factors of your safety. It gets dark early in winter, so headlights, side lights and fog lights have to be used more often. It is important that all lights are in good working condition.
An effective window antifogging method is dehumidification in the passenger compartment of your car by air conditioner. Therefore, before winter, be sure to check the presence of refrigerant in the system, the tightness of all pipes and the overall performance of the entire air conditioning system. A working air conditioner in winter is not a matter of comfort, but of your safety.
Optional: seal treatment and car body protection:
- Combination of frost and moisture lead to freezing of car and trunk doors. In accordance with the physical laws, moisture trapped on rubber seals freezes, and you cannot open a door. To avoid this, it is recommended to lubricate the rubber elements with silicone grease.
If a door is already frozen, then do not rush to pull it, because its exterior handle could be damaged. It is advisable to get into a car from the other side, turn on the heater and let the car “warm up”.
- Chemicals that are used to treat roads in winter have a very negative effect on paintwork and other exterior parts, contributing to increased corrosion. A for chrome parts, they could tarnish. Therefore, before the cold weather, it is recommended to treat a car body with wax-containing polishes, and chrome elements with special preservative compounds.
It will also be useful to touch up all small chips and scratches, because an aggressive salt environment in combination with high humidity can provoke corrosion of car body elements in the shortest possible time, literally in a matter of months.
How to drive in winter safely?
During winter season, drivers must be especially careful.
In winter, distance between vehicles should be longer, because tyre contact with the road is worse, ice and slush can lead to slipping, wheel blocking or slash planning.
It is important to remember that a warmed-up car less tends to skidding because the engine runs at lower rpm at operating temperature.
Try to skid not often. If you feel that your car is getting stuck in snow or cannot drive up a hill, then select higher range gear. You can also use the "swing" method - moving back and forth, this could help to overcome difficulties.