Winter driving can be as hard on your vehicle as it is on you, even if the signs are a little less obvious (your truck can’t cry in front of the fireplace, clinging to a coffee mug). Here are a few reasons winter is tough on vehicles, and ways that you can help winterize your car.
Living in Saskatchewan, the primary reason for switching to winter tires is obvious: it’s better to stay on the road than slide off of it like a shuffleboard. But, even for experienced drivers who choose to leave their summer tires on for winter driving, cold weather can be costly. When the temperature falls, even 7° can do it, accelerated tire-wear will begin to show on your summer set. Unlike more flexible winter tires, summer tires are designed to withstand heat, not salt, sand, and ice. In the long run, using one set of tires will not save you money because you’ll be replacing them more often.
The sound of an engine failing to turn over might be the seasonal anthem of Saskatchewan winters. To make sure their vehicles start every day, most drivers know to plug in their block heater overnight and to keep their battery fully charged by avoiding short trips. One lesser-known concern is a frozen fuel line. In sub-zero temperatures, moisture-rich air in the gas tank, mixed with fuel, can freeze. When the freezing occurs along the fuel line, it becomes impossible to start the vehicle. Keeping the gas tank full helps prevent this problem by limiting the amount of moisture in the gas tank. Plus, having plenty of fuel ensures you’re never stranded in the cold!
Although we’re grateful when city crews spread salt and sand around major roadways, the material can be as hard on your car as it is on the ice. In particular, as your tires spray it up, salt will damage the exterior of your vehicle. The salt used on the road lowers the freezing point of water to prevent the formation of ice. But this property also means that salt can extremely corrosive, and promote rust with prolonged exposure. Underneath your vehicle, rust damage can lead to costly fluid leaks. On the exterior, rust damage is unsightly and it hurts your vehicle’s resale value. To combat rust-damage, wash your vehicle monthly in winter – just make sure you don’t freeze your doors shut!