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Tips to protect your car from winter damage

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Feb 4, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Tips for protecting your car during the winterBurr, it’s cold outside. If you live in a cold and snowy area, your car might look a bit rough by now. Freezing temperatures, road salt, ice, and snow can wreak havoc on your vehicle. Here’s some tips to keep your car running at its best this winter.

1. Wash your car regularly.

While washing your car may seem like a waste of time and money, keeping your car clean this time of year is even more critical.

  • Road salt is corrosive. While road salt does a great job keeping the roads in good winter driving condition, it’s tough on our cars. Because of its corrosive properties, it can damage your car’s paint, clear coat, exhaust system, brake and gas lines, and undercarriage. Don’t overlook salt as just an everyday nuisance of winter. Please get rid of it when you can!
  • Tire maintenance. Tires take a beating all year round. However, keeping your tires clean can reduce wear and tear.
  • Improved visibility. Dirt, grime, and salt can build up on your headlights, taillights, windshield, mirrors, and back-up camera. Keeping these items clean can prevent you from hitting other objects.
  • Keeps your clothes clean. Getting salt on your winter jacket or pants doesn't take much. Regular washing can prevent additional dry cleaning bills.

Mother Nature can make washing your car tricky. The combination of cold and snow can make it seem like a losing battle. Days where daytime temperatures are near or at freezing are the best days to wash. Consider driving around a bit if the temperature is cooler to shed excess water. Once you’re home, wipe down your doors and windows with a warm, damp, microfiber cloth or chamois. Even if your garage isn’t heated, keeping the main door closed can help prevent your car from freezing.

Lastly, don’t forget about keeping your car’s interior clean. Using rubber floormats this time of year is beneficial because they’re easy to wash.

2. Drive smart.

Snow and ice can significantly increase braking distances. The last thing you want to do is slide into the car in front of you. Also, maintain a safe speed; hitting a concrete road barrier or spinning off the road into a ditch can cause significant damage to your car and injure you.

3. Install winter tires.

While winter tires are a financial commitment, they’re well worth the money. They offer exceptional grip, which leads to better steering and braking. In addition, when the stoplight turns green, you can get up and go.

4. Avoid driving through large puddles.

While large puddles may seem like no big deal, you never know what’s lurking beneath. Not only do they collect dirt and road salt, but they can also hide foreign objects and potholes. Damage caused to your car by hitting a pothole can be significant. Here’s a list of some of the damages that can occur to your vehicle.

  • Tire punctures
  • Bent rims
  • Suspension damage
  • Steering knocked out of alignment
  • Exhaust system damage
  • Engine damage

5. Avoid driving in deep snow.

Driving in deep snow won’t only leave you stranded, but it can cause damage to your car. Like puddles, you never know what’s lurking beneath. Packed snow containing road salt can get into places under your car causing rust. Deep snow can also damage your exhaust system. Depending on your vehicle, exhaust systems can be elaborate and pricey to repair. If you ever notice your car shaking during winter, it’s likely from packed snow in your wheels. To eliminate the shaking, remove the snow by going through a car wash.

6. Avoid parking on the street.

If you can avoid parking in the street especially during winter storms, it’s in your best interest. This will help prevent your car from getting buried and sprayed directly by salt. Parking in the street also makes it more susceptible to damage from other vehicles and theft. Lastly, if your city has a winter parking ordinance, parking tickets can dent your pocketbook.

7. Buy touch-up paint.

Due to cold temperatures, applying touch-up paint to a scratch or chip is challenging. However, using a little bit on bare metal can help fight corrosion. If you’ve been in an accident and your car is drivable, plan to get it into the body shop for repair sooner rather than later. The longer bare metal is exposed, the more likely it’ll rust.

Check out our other blogs for more winter car tips

Eight unique tips to keep your car rolling this winter

Understanding your car sensors and tips to keep them clean

Don’t get stranded: Tips for jumpstarting your car

Are you prepared to spend 22 hours in your car?

Do you have any suggestions or information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.

Topics: Auto Safety, Weather

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