Winter weather can be miserable for driving. These tips will help make your upcoming journeys safer and more comfortable.
Make sure all windows are clear before driving. Sight accounts for about 95% of the sensory input you need to drive safely. Always scrape all windows of ice before driving, and wipe the fog off all inside windows.
Make sure that the “fresh” air mode is selected on vehicles that have the choice, mostly Japanese vehicles. Putting on the air conditioning will help “dry” the air during moist winter months so the defroster will work faster. Most newer cars put on the A/C automatically when “defrost” is picked.
The only time I ever will recommend warming up your car before driving is when you need to thaw ice on the outside and clear fog on the inside of the windows. Note, don’t leave your car unattended, thieves can drive away.
Coat all your door weather stripping with a thin coat of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to prevent ice from sticking your door closed. Do NOT force open a door that is frozen shut, as this will rip the weather stripping and it is expensive to replace. If a door does stick, try to get it another door open, then start and warm up your car until the door opens.
Put a silicone-based lubrication in your door locks so they will open in cold weather. If your door lock is frozen, use a match or lighter to heat your key and then insert the key into the lock to warm it up. A hair drier will work to heat the key or the lock too, but be careful using 120 volt appliances in a wet environment because of the risk of electric shock.
In both of the last situations, warm water should only be used as a last resort. Warm water on cold glass could make the glass break, and adding water will just make more moisture available for the next freeze.
Replace your windshield wipers, not with inserts, but the complete blade assembly. The mechanism hold the rubber insert perpendicular to the windshield has about the same life as the rubber part of the insert. Replacing the complete assembly with assure better wiping action.
Also remember that wipers are designed to remove only rain; if you have snow or ice on your windshield, clean it off before driving. The wiper linkage and motor are not designed to handle the resistance of snow and ice, and can break under the stress.
Also be sure your windshield washer system works well and is full of winterized fluid.
Taking just a few preventative steps will make winter driving a more pleasant and safer experience.
Prevent water damage
If you discover that your car is wet inside, have it repaired- - both any damage that is caused, as well as the problem that is allowing the moisture inside to accumulate.
Modern vehicles have many electronic control units that are sensitive to moisture and expensive to repair. We replace many water-damaged units every year, costing customers thousands of dollars.
The most important thing you can do to prevent water damage is to have your cowl drains checked at least yearly.
Winter fuel mileage
One of the common complaints we get going into the cooler weather is the fuel mileage decreases, up to 4 miles per gallon. This is so true for a few reasons. The first is that a cold engine is not as efficient as a warn engine, so it takes a longer time for the engine to reach operating temperature. The second reason is there is a change in the fuels you buy. Yes, there is a winter and summer fuels that are used. There are many different reasons but in a nut shell it boils down to two reasons. One is performance and drivable, the other being keeping the pollution more in check.
Quick winter checklist
1. Check tires for tread depth, pressure and wear pattern.
2. Replace windshield wiper
3. Check coolant; replace if over 4 years old
4. Have battery checked; replace if over 6 years old
5. Check and clean cowl drains under hood in front of windshield. Remove leaves and needles.
6. Check all lighting
7. Repair if “check engine” light is on
8. Make sure heater and defroster are working
9. Clean all windows inside and out
10. Do not drive until all windows are free from frost and dew
There is no reason to warm up your vehicle in cold weather before you drive it. Just get in, start it and drive off. You will want to be careful about using full acceleration until you temperature gauge gets to the normal area. Just drive as is you have an egg under the gas pedal until the engine warms up. It is better for your car, better for the environment and better for your pocketbook. A car idling and not moving gets horrible fuel mileage and just pollutes.
The only acceptation to this is to use the heater to defrost the windows or you hate to be cold.