Getting your ride ready for winter: what should you check?
One of the toughest seasons of the year is upon us and whilst you are busy preparing your winter boots and the snowboard, you shouldn’t forget that your car needs some attention as well. The harsh conditions of winter can be a threat to your vehicle, starting with the constant humidity, the cold and the ice sticking to your suspension parts and the biggest threat of all is the salt used by the authorities on the public roads to prevent slippery surfaces. Even though that salt keeps you from accidentally losing traction and ending up in dangerous situations, it is the number one enemy of metal parts as it accelerates rust.
At Rymax, we try our best to help you, as a motorist, in keeping your ride in the best possible condition by providing solutions to day-to-day problems that you may be faced with. So, how should you start preparing and checking your car this winter?
First of all, a full inspection/service should be performed. What is the mileage since your last inspection? If an inspection is due, do not waste any more time, do it as quickly as possible. This is because the cold makes your oil thicker, and added to an old oil which has lost its properties, this can cause real damage to your engine’s internals. Depending on the climate you are driving in, it might also be recommended to use an oil with a lower viscosity in winter, while still respecting the car manufacturer’s specifications.
The above-mentioned inspection should also include a check-up of the brakes and belts. Although the cold and winter season do not affect your braking system directly, you wouldn’t like to find yourself left without brakes on a slippery, snowy slope. As for the engine belts, the cold has a big influence on the rubber, making it crack and lose its elasticity which can lead to the accessory belt, or even worse, the timing belt of your engine to break and immobilise your vehicle.
Once the general inspection has passed, your car is one step closer to making it through the cold season. Another check should be performed on the condition of the anti-freeze liquid in the coolant system. Preventing your coolant fluid from freezing is extremely important and checking its condition is cheap and can eventually save you from a lot of trouble (a frozen coolant system leads to cracks in the engine block and cylinder head). If you don’t want to go to a garage to check it and you are the hands-on type, you can go to your local parts store and ask for a coolant protection level tester (coolant freezing point tester). Depending on your climate, you should decide if you need to add more coolant or not, but the recommended proportions for the anti-freeze/water mix is 50/50.
Another small winter tip for the everyday driver is related to the freezing doors and door rubbers. Have you ever gone to your car on a cold morning only to find out that you're unable to open the door on the first try? Really cold temperatures combined with the humid environments cause the door rubbers, handles and locks to freeze. One small tip for this is using a rubber conditioner spray for the door rubbers and a PTFE spray for the door locks and handle hinges.
The salt, mentioned in earlier paragraphs, is the biggest enemy of your car’s body and chassis, as it causes rust to form and spread really fast. Washing your car weekly and most importantly performing underbody washes of your car can save it from rust eating away at it. On the other hand, be very careful with washing your car in winter. Leaving it wet can cause important parts to freeze and lead to them being damage in the process (suspension parts, bearings, hinges, sensors, actuators). If you are about to wash your car, make sure you dry it really good, and also make sure that there will be no freezing temperatures for at least another couple of hours. If you are living in a really cold climate, you should leave your car overnight in a garage above freezing point after washing it.
For more tips and tricks on how to best maintain your vehicle, please keep an eye on our blog and be sure to follow us social media.