Driving conditions during winter can sometimes be risky due to factors such as snow, ice and fog on the road. Though in most parts of India, snow is not a concern, fog often disrupts vehicular movements.
While it is important to be prepared for winter driving, it is also crucial that your car is up for the challenge. The right car care can potentially reduce the cost of maintenance or repairs. Before you hit any harsh winter conditions, have your vehicle serviced to prepare it for the challenges winter can pose.
Follow the recommendations below to make sure your car can handle winter road conditions:
Battery power decreases as the temperature drops which means it takes more power to start your car in the winter. If your battery is already having problems, your risk of breaking down increases. It is recommended that your auto care provider installs a battery at or above 600 CCA for optimal winter performance.
Check your car lights
During the winter season, the sun sets early in the day, which means there is less daylight. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure your car’s lights are working at their optimum level. If the car lights (headlights, tail lights, turn indicators, and reverse headlights) are not working, get them checked and replace them.
Change your engine oil
If you have been using the engine oil or coolant for a very long time, it may be time to replace it instead of topping it up. It is suggested that you consider using a lighter engine oil that is right for cold weather conditions. Go through the owner’s manual to find out the manufacturer's recommended temperature ranges and fill the engine oil and coolant accordingly.
Check windshield and wiper
The windshield is an integral part of a vehicle. This helps in wind, rain, fog or snow from entering the cabin. Make sure you perform a thorough check to identify any crack or seepage of water on the windshield. During cold weather, such cracks could become troublesome by accumulating mist or frost. That would hamper the driver's vision of the road ahead. It can be solved by balancing the temperature inside the outside the vehicle using the climate control system or the defroster. But, it is always suggested to ensure the windshield is in perfect condition.
Windshield wipers, too, play a crucial role in cold conditions. They are one of the most exposed components of a vehicle. Hence, their lifespan is not long. Always check the wipers for visible cracks, wears or damage. If there is any such visible damage, it is better to replace them. You can also install winter wipers. These come equipped with rubber that keeps ice from collecting on the blades. Just be sure to remove them when spring rolls around. As winter wipers are heavier than regular ones, keeping them on all the time increases the load on the wiper motor.
Keep washer fluid full
Replace your windshield wiper fluid often. A single snowstorm can exhaust a large amount of this fluid, so refill the washer reservoir frequently with windshield wiper fluid formulated for winter conditions. If you’re unsure if your washer fluid is the right formula for low temperatures, add a bottle of washer fluid antifreeze to the reservoir. You’ll find it at most auto parts stores.
Warm up your engine
Among the simplest methods of winter care for your car during cold conditions is warming your car engine before starting the day. It helps the engine oil cover every engine's nook and corner. While launching your car is never a good option for your engine, it becomes particularly harmful in winter given the cold state of your engine and engine oil. Revving the engine for a few minutes should help the engine warm-up and perform to its optimum levels. It also helps decrease the wear and tear of the engine.
Last but not the least, check your tyres and change them if you find them wearing out before winter. If you live in a place that experiences extremely cold winter temperatures like the northern parts of India, it is recommended that you install winter tyres when winterizing your car. When the temperature consistently hovers around or below freezing, the rubber compounds in non-winter tyres harden, decreasing the tyre’s ability to grip the road. Winter tyres use special compounds engineered to resist hardening in cold temperatures, providing better traction in ice, snow, slush, and even dry pavement.