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As you’ve likely noticed, wintertime can cause a lot of wear to your car. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that will lessen the potential damage and ways to take care of it if it’s already happened. When it starts to get cold, nature is giving you a heads-up that your car is ready for some TLC. We Detroiters aren’t afraid of a little snow, and winter driving doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you know how to get your car ready.

  1. Make sure your tires are in good health. The tires of your car will probably have the most contact with ice and snow, so it’s essential that they’re ready to withstand this atmosphere. Getting their pressure checked is a good idea to ensure you’re getting sufficient traction, which is vital when trying to drive on wet roads; you might also consider switching to snow tires.

  2. Check if your battery is functioning properly. The lower the temperature, the harder a car battery has to work, so you’ll want to know that yours is tough enough to handle the cold. You can test the battery yourself using a voltmeter, or have it done at an auto parts store – some even provide this service for free. If your battery is more than three years old, it’s probably time to replace it.

  3. Have you ever tried to get into a car during the winter and found that you couldn’t, even though the door was unlocked, because it had frozen shut? Giving it a hard pull is the only option, and that doesn’t work all the time. You can stop this from happening again by applying silicone lubricant to the weather stripping on the inner rims on the doors and trunk of your vehicle.

  4. You’ll be using your windshield wipers a lot in winter, so you’ll want yours to be capable of working well throughout the season. If you haven’t replaced your wipers in the last six months, the beginning of winter is an opportune time to do it. The best wipers for cold weather are those that come with a hood component, which will impede snow and ice from getting stuck within. It’s also a smart move to change out your regular washer fluid for a type made for below-zero temperatures.

  5. When we hear “winter” and “cars” in the same sentence, we think of one thing: salt. Every vehicle being driven in an icy area will soon start showing the chalky white streaks that are characteristic of having come into contact with salt. The best way to clean this off is with plain water. Be sure to avoid getting any in your exhaust pipe, and don’t use a cloth because it can spread the salt around. After you’re done washing the car, apply a coat of wax, and it will be more resistant to salt buildup in the future.

  6. The salt on the road can also accelerate the development of rust on a car. Washing it as described above will help, but nothing can totally thwart corrosion. However, rust can be removed, and there are a lot of products on the market to choose from. The guys from HotRod.com tested out many options and found a handful of winners – visit their blog to see the results.

  7. Liquids tend to thicken as the temperature drops, and that includes the ones inside your car that are necessary to keep it running. If this happens, they will not be able to travel smoothly through the seals they need to and can even break them. To prevent this, change the oil, brake fluid, radiator fluid, and other fluids before winter. Also, letting your car run for about 10 minutes before you start driving it can help warm up these liquids.

Getting your car ready for winter will help you have a smoother driving experience this season. But the best advice I can give you is to drive slowly. Icy roads are dangerous, and no amount of cleaning or maintenance is a substitute for making wise choices behind the wheel. Have a safe and enjoyable winter!


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