It’s Monday once again and the alarm blows its sharp beeps towards your ears. You get out of bed, put your slippers on as the floor is colder than an iceberg: it’s full-on winter outside. Getting ready for work, you have a shower, pour a cup of hot coffee and add a few consistent layers of clothing to protect your body from the bone-chilling breeze outside. You get into your car, turn on the engine and leave. Your car wasn’t prepared to go, and might suddenly fail. Here’s how to properly get your car ready for the road in the winter.
Idle for a while
As temperatures can go way below freezing point during winter, it’s highly recommended to let your car idle for a while before setting off. Idling allows for oil to become less viscous as it heats up and also get within every bearing and other moving component to provide lubrication. Idling also lets the engine heat up a bit, thus offer a better fuel economy and performance.
Clean the glass
As your car idles, get outside and remove the snow that dropped overnight, then scrape off any ice. If you keep your car in a well-sealed garage, you could probably skip this step. Otherwise, be advised that a leaf blower does wonders in quickly taking off any excess snow. Then, use a specialized defrosting product and a window scraper to remove the ice blocking your view through the windshield. Make sure the headlights and taillights are also clean so other drivers can notice your signals.
Do not use hot water to defrost your windshield! The huge temperature difference won’t be taken lightly by the glass, causing instantaneous cracks.
Check the tyres
The only thing connecting your car to the road at all times is the contact patch of the tyre. Before your set off, check your tyres for any ice or snow that might not have been evacuated from the thread while rolling. Compact snow infiltrated in the grooves of the tyre thread will act like ice-skates against the icy road that awaits. You can a plastic or wooden stick to clear out the grooves as well as you can. A clean tyre grips properly and lets your car start off properly without spinning too much.
Turn on assisting systems
While most of the time driver aids are switched on by default on most cars, you might have forgot to turn traction control back on after you made some donuts in the snow last night. Not being able to control your car on a busy road is not fun and might result in a crash. Before you leave, make sure all driver aids such as ESP, ABS and traction control are active and ready to kick in when needed.
Bonus tip: Starting in 2nd gear
Worn tyres and too much torque offered by the 1st gear will probably cause your wheels to spin and dig into the snow, especially if you’re not soft on the throttle. To avoid this in a manual transmission car, start up into the second gear, gradually applying throttle. The wheel will spin slower and allow the tyre to grip onto the surface.
Cars with automatic transmission also feature a similar system that allows you to start in a higher gear; check your car’s owner manual to figure out how to enable it.