The ice and snow They are something that a almost every we love. We associate them, in a way, with Christmas, winter, fun and all that kind of positive. Even those who have tried snow / ice driving in controlled conditions know that it is a very fun activity. When it’s not so funny is when it piles up on our car.
In some parts of our country the temperatures reach really low figures. It is not strange to find the windshield of the car covered by a layer of ice in the morning; or even the entire car covered in a large layer of snow. Therefore, it is important to remember some winter car maintenance tips.
There are a series of simple precautions that will help us when driving during the winter months -when we find snow, ice or very cold asphalt-. It is also important to remove ice and snow from the car windows; as well as taking a series of measures to avoid breakdowns in our vehicle due to adverse weather conditions.
Check your tires
Tires must have at least the legal minimum of 1.6 mm. However, in bad weather conditions, a minimum of 3 mm is recommended. The more depth the drawing has, more evacuation capacity we will have. The tires must be in a correct state of pressure, they must not present major damages in the flanks and they must have a homogeneous wear.
We recommend fitting winter tires if you drive in areas where the average temperature during winter is below 7ºC. If, on the other hand, you are going to move through snowy areas and you have conventional tires, remember to load the covers or chains.
Check the lights
In the winter months, especially when driving in adverse weather conditions such as rain or snow, motorists are advised to use their lights throughout the day. Wearing the lights makes us more visible from further away.
Headlights and taillights must be in good conditions. Additionally, you should check if you have a burned out light bulb before setting off. If you have to change any of the bulbs, it is recommended that you change both the ones on the left side and the ones on the right side. So both will have the same seniority.
Don’t forget the brakes
Brakes are one of the most important components of our vehicle, if not the most important. It is of no use to us to have high doses of power if we do not have how to control it. Think that the braking system is one of the components that more wear and tear suffers daily. For this reason it is important to guarantee its good maintenance.
The frequency with which we must change the brake pads depends on the type of vehicle we have, the use that we give to braking equipment, from type of brake pads that we equip and of the kilometers that we used to travel. This means that maintenance needs vary greatly from one vehicle to another.
In any case, here the important thing check the wear of both the brake calipers and the discs. Make sure there are no flaws or excessive dirt on them. Similarly, you must understand how your car’s braking system works.
In an emergency situation and the ABS drive -which tends to jump easily in low grip conditions-, many people are scared by the rattle of the pedal and release the brake. This increases the braking distance and they even collide. We recommend that you read the manual and find out how these elements will react to dangerous situations.
Visibility is vital
The correct operation of the anti-fogging systems is not enough. We will have to clean the windows well inside and out to avoid loss of vision or reflections. You also have to have the brushes in good condition and carry some antifreeze liquid in the water tank to avoid staying “Dry” or that an ice layer is generated on the glass if we activate the water jets.
In addition to using traditional scratchers, there are some infallible tricks. With them we can make that ice disappear without difficulty, without breaking the glass or ending up with frozen hands. You can see them in the link. In any case, the most effective way to remove ice and snow from the car glass is to use a mixture of one part water and two part alcohol.
Essential items that you should take in the car
During the winter months, drivers are advised to carry in the car a series of accessories. These could be extremely useful in the event of an unforeseen snowfall or in the event of an accident:
- High visibility vest.
- A special canister to fill with spare fuel in an emergency.
- Adequate footwear for in case of having to get off the vehicle, to do it with safety, comfort and traction.
- Two hazard warning triangles.
- Spare wheel (check that the spare wheel is in good condition and fully inflated. Some cars may have a repair kit instead of a spare wheel. Make sure you know how to use it, that it is not expired or has already been spent.
- A tow rope never hurts.
- A small shovel. It can be of great help if we drive through areas where heavy snowfall occurs or even if we drive a lot on muddy roads.
- Defrosting equipment (for door locks and windows.
- Replacement bulbs.
- First aid kit.
- A blanket and some food (some energy bars and a bottle of water never hurt).
- Battery clips as well as the roadside assistance phone
- Auxiliary battery for mobile phone, charger or power bank.
Pay attention to the battery
The car battery is a must so that everything works correctly. Thanks to the vehicle’s battery, we can start the engine to put into operation any electrical component when the alternator is not in operation. This is the case of the radio, the climate control, the infotainment system …
Beyond abuses or misunderstandings, the car battery can also discharge for other reasons, such as frost in winter. Therefore, it never hurts to know how to charge our car battery or how to start a car without a battery. Before setting off in winter, take a look at the battery and check its charge status with the help of a multimeter.
Check the fluid levels of the car
Make sure the refrigerant, the level of brake fluid, the oil and the windshield wiper fluid are at optimal level. Also make sure that both the filters and the visible ducts are in good condition and that there are no leaks and damage. Similarly, turn on the air conditioner to check for bad odors or clogging.
Check the condition of the roads
If you are going to take the car for a long trip, always try to do it during the day. Stay informed of weather reports and traffic announcements. To find out the state of the roads, just visit the official website of the DGT. It shows the affected roads and what the alert level is, along with the necessary measures to take into account.
The DGT uses a color code to convey to the population whether or not it can circulate, if the port or section is closed or if it must use chains. Knowing the meaning of each level is essential to know the risk that runs when driving on a certain road, so do not forget to take a look at our tutorial on this to understand it.
Prevention is wise
You would rather avoid a breakdown than pay for a repair. There are some steps you can take to prevent the cold and snow from damaging your precious car. If you are going to leave the vehicle immobilized for days and the temperatures are going to drop considerably, consider buying one cover to cover the car.
Do you want to avoid ice forming on the windshield? The main trick is to place a thick blanket on the glass and hold it with the door frames closed. You can also do this with cardboard or newspaper, but they are more difficult to hold. Lastly remember wash the car more often in winter, especially if salt has been used for asphalt, as it is very corrosive.
Are these recommendations valid for all cars?
Yes, these simple maintenance tips are applicable for gasoline, diesel, hybrid, PHEV, LPG / CNG and even electric cars, although the latter have fewer mechanical parts than combustion models.
The elements that suffer the most ibad weather They are common to all types of engines, since we are talking about elements such as tires, conventional battery, lights, air conditioning or the interior and exterior of the vehicle.