6 Essential Car Maintenance Tips for Winter

by Jamie Simmerman · 18 comments

Woman maintaining her winter vehicle

When winter hits here in Ohio, we have several months of what I call “brown sticks and mud season.” Then, the buckets of snow and freezing slush begin. The weather is predictably varied here, and we often experience freezing temps in the early mornings and above average “heat waves” in the same day. Such weather extremes can be rough on your vehicle.

Last week, I discussed how having a winter vehicle can save you money, and this week, I’m going to share a few tips and tricks for maintaining your vehicle come wintertime.

1. Manage rust with rinsing & products.

Snow and ice are dangerous — and I don’t just mean for driving conditions. The solvents that are put on the roadways during bad weather can eat away the frame, brake lines, and body panels of your vehicle.

If you have to drive during inclement weather and know there are treatments on the road, be sure to rinse out the undercarriage of your car as soon as possible. You can do this at a car wash or at home with the garden hose, but it’s crucial to wash away those chemicals and salt mixtures as soon as possible.

To help prevent premature rusting, you can also have an electronic rust prevention device installed on your car. This device sends a small electric current through the frame of your vehicle, sometimes in conjunction with special coatings, to prevent rusting. Some people claim these products don’t make a difference, but we’ve had good success with ours here in Ohio.

2. Check your tire pressure often.

Fluctuating temperatures can mean changes in your tire pressure, which can lead to tire damage, poor driving control, and lower gas mileage. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure, and measure your tires frequently to make sure they match it.

3. Change your tires.

Having a set of tires specifically for winter driving is a good idea. This gives you increased safety on slick roadways. Changing your tires between summer and winter also means your summer tires (which likely get more mileage) last longer.

4. Don’t roll your windows down in freezing temperatures.

Wait until your car has been warm for at least 30 minutes before attempting to roll the windows down, as doing so beforehand will cause water collected in your window seals and the mechanical parts of your door to freeze. If not allowed to thaw before operating the windows, this can cause damage to your car, such as leaky windows or temperamental controls.

5. Replace your windshield wipers at the first sign of snow.

When it flurries for the first time, head out and put on those new wiper blades. You may need them to stay safe during an unexpected ice storm or when that nice semi-truck passes you and splashes six inches of mud and cinders on your windshield.

6. Take your car in for winter maintenance.

Get a flush and fill, have your antifreeze checked, and make sure your brakes are in good condition before you head out on winter roadways. Also, be sure to check your battery, as cold weather is rough on older batteries.

Giving your vehicle special attention in the winter is essential. If you haven’t gotten your vehicle ready for winter yet, be sure to make it a priority for your safety and the safety of those sharing the roads with you. Preparation and maintenance will save you money over time. Since your car is often the second most expensive purchase you make, winterizing your vehicle is an investment just as valuable as making energy-efficient upgrades to your home.

Do you have any other winter car maintenance tips you’d recommend? 

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  • Tools Specialist says:

    These car maintenance tips are very useful. I think I should take note of this as this can save me a lot of money. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • Henry Killingsworth says:

    I thought it was interesting when you explained that it is important to make sure that the brakes on a semi-truck are in good condition before going out on the road in the winter. Do semi-trucks have specific tires that they need to use depending on the season? It seems like you would want to make sure that you have the proper tires on your truck depending on what the season is.

  • Taylor Hansen says:

    Now that it’s winter, I want to make sure my car is in the best shape to handle any snow or ice. It’s good to know that you should replace your windshield wipers when it snows. I should find an auto place to replace them with a high-quality wiper for the snow.

  • E. Vargas says:

    Great tips! I really enjoyed tip 5 about windshield wipers!

  • Zoe Camposz says:

    Thank you for telling me that I should measure my tires frequently to avoid experiencing mishaps while I’m driving. This reminded me of that time when I got stranded in my vehicle last year and I have to wait for the morning so I can get help. This time, I’ll pay more attention to vehicle maintenance and I’ll also consider hiring towing services.

  • Leviticus Bennett says:

    So, my windshield wipers make that “nails-on-chalkboard” sound when I use them. I think it might be time I follow your advice and get them replaced before it starts snowing heavily. I might just make sure my car doesn’t need any other repairs while I’m at it.

  • Romeoba says:

    I bought my first car and winter is coming. Thanks for sharing this post with us. I bought my luxury car from one of the amazing and professional Volvo car experts. I highly recommend all of you if anyone is looking to buy a new car then you can contact Lance Cook. His contact link is in my profile.

  • Alex Nazari says:

    Really thanks for sharing this useful post !! I was searching for this type of post and finally got here. this post is very informative and i have got very good information about car maintenance tips.

  • EAC Poway says:

    Proper maintenance is the best way to increase your vehicle’s performance and life. You also need to check your car lights because as the nights draws in, it becomes important that the lights on your car are in good working. Thus, if you see any problems on the lights then replace them.

  • Lary Cook says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing this information up here. Car maintenance can be a task, especially in the winters. Everyone understands that heaters and oil and engine need to be tended to. However, people mostly ignore their tires. It is extremely important to install winter tires to save yourself on those slippery, icy, snowy roads.

  • CJ Holmskovec says:

    As a vehicle owner it is our first and foremost duty to properly maintain our car. Before leaving for any long journey, we should check the tire pressure and check any sign of tire damage. We must check the fluid level and top it up if necessary. The level of oil must be checked every month. Sufficient amount of antifreeze must be added to the coolant to prevent overheating in summer and engine freezing in winter. A quick inspection of different components must be done and defective components must be replaced before leaving for any long road trip.

  • Penelope Smith says:

    I just bought my first car and winter is getting closer and closer. So, I liked that you explained that it might be smart for me to get some winter tires. That is good for me to know because my area gets a lot of snow in the winter time.

  • Burt Brothers says:

    These tips will surely help a lot. By changing your tires between summer and winter also means your summer tires which likely get more mileage last longer. Glad to read this article.

  • Shane says:

    Great tips, it is smart to take these things into consideration and your car will be much more healthy and run better in the long run.

  • Bert says:

    Prevent AC/Heater seals from drying out year round by operating the off season unit for 20-30 minutes once a month or so. This means turning on the heater in the summer, and AC in winter. By doing this, you will keep the unit well lubricated and functional for it’s entire lifetime. Non use will dehydrate the gaskets, etc., causing them to lose their effectiveness.

  • Mark says:

    How about purchasing all-season tires so you don’t have to buy two seperate types of tires for different seasons? I prefer Goodyear, decently priced and will last quite a while.

  • Levi says:

    This tips are vital! Your car is a big expense and taking good care of it can really help you down the road to stay on budget. Especially keeping your tires at the proper pressure. I have learned the hard way that you can quickly mess up a good set of tires by ignoring the air pressure.

    I live in Texas and our winters are pretty mild, but it still gets below freezing at times and many fail to maintain their vehicle properly. I see a lot more broken down cars sitting on the side of the road this time of year.

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