The winter months are not an easy time for cars. The cold often damages various engine parts from connecting wires to batteries, as well as causing the usual hassle of de-frosting car doors and windows. These issues leave many cars in need of a check-up – particularly after the holidays, when drivers generally leave their car idle in favour of festive food and fun. Subsequently, the start of January is the busiest time of the year for breakdown services, with the first working day of January being when most call-outs are made.
To help this year, we’ve put together a few solutions to common cold weather car issues:
1. Defrosting door handles
Frozen car door handles can be easily defrosted by simply rubbing a little hand sanitiser on them. The alcohol in the hand gel quickly melts the ice.
If your car lock is also frozen shut, try slightly heating your key with a lighter for a quick and easy way to get through.
2. Preventing stuck doors
Wiping WD-40 or cooking oil on the outer rim of your car door can prevent it from getting stuck from frost. This seals the edge of the door and stops any water seeping in and freezing shut overnight.
3. Stop windows fogging up
Shaving foam contains many similar ingredients to defoggers and have now become a popular way to keep cars mist-free. Just apply a layer of foam to your windshield and wipe off with a dry cloth for a clear view of the road.
4. Stop wipers from freezing
After parking your car for the night, an easy way to keep wipers from freezing to your windshield is by lifting them and placing a sock on each. This will keep any snow or moisture off them for easier de-icing in the morning.
5. Avoid icy side mirrors
Water freezing onto side mirrors overnight often makes them the hardest car part to completely defrost by the time you are driving.
An easy method to avoid this is by placing plastic freezer bags over them and securing them with rubber bands.
6. Not enough traction
If your car is unable to get traction on frozen ground, try scattering cat litter in front of your driving wheels will help give them additional grip to get you moving.
Placing a small piece of carpet or cardboard in front of driving tyres will also work similarly.
7. Park facing east
If you’re able to, try to park your car facing east overnight. That way, the rays of the morning sun will help defrost your car and make it easier to clean, saving you time and energy.
8. Keep an eye on your battery
As mentioned, the cold can be hard on car battery power, especially when left unused. Batteries may struggle to start due to the reduced power; older, weaker ones often end up failing altogether.
To avoid this, give your car a good charge by driving it at least a couple of times over a week, for half an hour each trip. Another solution to keeping a battery fresh is to buy a battery charger and maintainer – these can be left connected to a car for a long period without overcharging.
9. Check those tyres
Flat tyres and punctures are common during winter. The cold conditions affect tyre pressure and traction whilst unseen hazards (hiding in the snow!) can cause a tear.
An easy way to test your tyre tread and pressure is with a 20 pence coin. Simply slot the coin into the main grooves of a tyre and if the outer band of the coin is covered, it means it’s within the legal limit (a minimum of 1.6mm).