Cold Weather Car Care Myths & Tips

The Days Are Getting Shorter & The Weather is Getting Colder…

Everyone always has advice on how you should treat your car in the colder months. Some of this advice is valuable and helpful, while other advice should be disregarded. Before the cold weather hits, we thought we’d review some ways to prepare for the frigid, cold months. You’ll want to identify and address any areas of concern before it gets cold, and we hope this article will help you know what to do next.

Myths vs True Tips for Cold Weather Car Care

MYTH: Idling Your Car Will Help it Warm Up Faster

This tall tale has been passed down for generations, and to this day is still practiced by many drivers. Unfortunately, it is just not true. There is evidence that actually supports that this not only wastes your gas, but actually causes unnecessary wear to your engine – especially your pistons and cylinders. Modern cars are built with combustion engines which runs on a mixture of air and fuel to generate power, but in cold weather, gasoline is more likely to evaporate throwing off the ratio of fuel and air. This ultimately causes the engine to consume more fuel than required.

road sign in early morning winter sunshine reading caution freezing conditions

TIP: Prepare an Emergency Cold Weather Kit

You can purchase a pre-packaged emergency kit, or you can spend a little time building your own. If you live in an area with heavy snow fall or ice, tire chains may be an excellent addition to your kit. When stuck on icy, snow packed roads, they can be a life saving tool to have available. Keep extra coats, sweaters, mittens, hats, and scarves in your vehicle – enough for the whole family. In addition to coats and sweaters, you can include blankets or thermal blankets. Keeping a small shovel around can help you dig the snow out from around the tires or bumper and adding kitty litter to the ground around the tires can help you gain enough traction to get out. Other items to include are snacks (like trail mix, protein bars, etc.), flares to use during the day or night, cell phone charger, tow straps, a pocket knife, matches, and so on.

MYTH: Pouring Hot or Warm Water on the Windshield Will Melt the Ice

It is true that pouring water on your windshield will melt the ice, but it will also break the glass. Glass is notoriously fragile, and it is not able to handle the quick temperature change like freezing to boiling. This will cause the glass to flex and break.

TIP: Invest in Wiper Blades, an Ice Scraper, and De-icer Fluid

Instead of pouring water on your car windows, we really recommend a good pair of windshield wipers. This is a component often overlooked by car owners, and you always miss them when you really need them. Do not use an old credit card to scrape ice from the windows… Get yourself a scraper with an attached brush and you will thank yourself for many years to come. Additionally, if ice is a real concern, look into using a de-icer windshield wiper solution instead of the standard fluid. Are you seeing a fluid around your car you cannot identify? Take a look at our Car Fluid Color Guide.

MYTH: Anti-lock Brakes Mean You Can Stop No Matter What

This is absolutely not true and potentially dangerous. Anti-lock brakes only allow you to maintain control in the event a tire stops working. A wheel speed sensor determines if one or more of the wheels are trying to lock up, if it is, a series of hydraulic valves limits the braking on the wheel that’s locking up. This helps to prevent skidding and allows the driver to maintain more control over steering.

TIP: Slow Down and Take Your Time

Do not rely on your brakes to stop your car as quickly as they would on dry land. Whenever icy, snowy or other road conditions are present, the environment changes a lot. Some roads are salted and sanded, slush on the road can refreeze, ice patches may be present that you cannot see… Your best bet is to slow down, brake often, and give yourself plenty of space from the cars around you. Has it been a while since you’ve had your brakes inspected? Check out our Brake Repair Services page for more information.

AAMCO Utah Can Help Winterize Your Car!

Before winter arrives, schedule an appointment at your local AAMCO Utah location this fall and ask about our FREE Fall Safety Check and we will check belts, hoses, error codes, and more! Preparing for winter and the colder weather is always a lot of work but making sure your car is ready to go is one less thing to have to stress about. Schedule your appointment today!

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