Are Your Winter Habits Ruining Your Car?
When the temperature drops, we treat our cars differently. Or, at least we should be in order to maximize their life. Unfortunately, there are several people who do change their car habits, but for the worse.
Check out this list of winter car habits that could be damaging your car and consider how you might adjust to give your car a longer, happier life.
- Warming your car for too long
While warming up the car is viable for a couple minutes, engines are not designed to idle for too long. Idling for long periods of time can force the engine to operate in an inefficient, gas-guzzling mode that ultimately degrades the engine’s performance and reduces its mileage. Idling for long periods of time can also cause buildup on the spark plugs, making them less efficient. It’s best to wait only about 10-30 seconds and then start driving slowly to warm up your car’s engine to its optimal temperature as fast as possible.
- Not washing your car frequently
Salt from the roads can stick to your car's components - usually the undercarriage, brakes and wheel wells - and cause them to corrode. Washing your car frequently during the winter, paying special attention to the underbelly, can help to extend your car's life.
- Not keeping your gas tank full
During the winter, it’s best to fill up your car as frequently as possible. Near-empty tanks can cause you problems you probably don’t want to deal with – moist air in an empty tank can freeze and crystallize, leading to ice in your car’s fuel lines.
- Using summer tires
Many people who don’t see much snowfall in their area neglect to change their tires when winter hits. Summer tires begin to experience faulty performance when temperatures fall below 45 degrees. Even if there’s no snow, low temperatures and thin layers of ice can weaken summer tires, leading to poor handling and braking.
- Not checking your tire pressure
Tires tend to be a bigger issue in the winter due to compressed air. In fact, for every 10-degree drop in temperature, your tire pressure may be reduced by one PSI. Consider keeping an emergency maintenance kit in the car with a portable air pump and pressure gauge. If the last time you checked your tire pressure was in the heat of the summer, you’re likely to be driving on severely underinflated tires.
- Exposing your dashboard to the sun
The sun is just as intense in the winter as it is in the summer. Parking in the sunlight can cause your dashboard to fade, crack or blister. Just as you would in the summer, consider keeping a sunshade in the backseat or trunk for days when the sun is brightly shining.