Winter Maintenance Tips
Perhaps the first frost has already coated your windshield, forcing you to dig out the scraper. As you adjust to the chill, give a thought to your ride, and check out these nine tips that will keep your car rolling smoothly through winter’s challenges.
We’re assuming you’ve covered the basics (such as the scraper!) and are up-to-date on your car’s regular scheduled service. Don’t postpone that—an annoyance in warmer weather can become a hazard that strands you in the winter, putting your life at risk.
As you tackle fall’s bounty on your lawn, leave some energy for removing the leaves that find their way into your vehicle.
Leaves, twigs and other organic matter can cause havoc with gutters on your house—and the equivalent on your car. When debris builds up in areas of your car where water is supposed to run out, you can get leaks or corrosion. The air plenum near the windshield is a classic spot where this can happen. If you have a sunroof, open it up and look around in there, too, from outside the car. Sunroofs have drains to flow water that sneaks past the seals down and out of the car. Plant gunk in there can plug those drains, making wet headliners or worse.
So-called “all-season” tires have been on the market for decades. Coupled with front-wheel-drive and stability-control systems, they have allowed many folks to avoid mounting a true winter tire for the winter months. But there are two trends in tires you should be aware of:
- Styling priorities have led to manufacturers fitting wider, low-profile tires on many cars. Wide and low profile, on balance, makes a tire worse in the snow. Pressures to improve tire fuel economy have also worked against the snow handling of all-seasons.
- Winter tires have improved their behavior from the era of knobby, loud “snows” that looked like they belonged on an army truck. New tread patterns and rubber compounds make them quieter on dry roads, yet even more effective on frozen stuff.
If you choose to go with winter tires, note that vendors such as The Tire Rack and Discount Tire Direct offer packages with the tires already mounted on a new set of wheels. Changing out the entire wheel/tire combo for the winter is more cost-effective than having two sets of tires switched on and off your wheels in fall and winter.