The winter season is here and with it comes colder temperatures and weather changes. The changing seasons bring decreased visibility, bad road conditions and other hazards. To be safe this winter you need to be sure to prepare ahead of time to increase your safety while winter driving.

According to winter driving statics published by the Federal Highway Administration. Approximately 155,164 vehicle crashes occur in the winters’ rough driving conditions. But, Out of such a large number of accidents only account for 17% of total car crashes in the United States. Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, Canadian statistics state that over 30% of car accidents are due to icy conditions.

In This Article

Corrosion

Vehicle manufacturers, for the most part, build their cars from metal materials. Metals that are prone to rust especially from the buildup of road salt. That accumulates underneath your truck, in the wheel wheels and brake pads.

Fluids Thickening With The Cold Temperatures

When the winter temperatures begin to drop below -20 degrees Celsius. (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) All the fluids inside of your vehicle begin to thicken up and the viscosity becomes closer to that of molasses.

This is an issue because thicker fluids put more of a strain on your engine and other motor parts of the vehicle. Which can decrease longevity or cause unexpected problems over time.

If temperature levels expect to be well below freezing or there’s a big storm on the way. Your windshield wipers may freeze to the window and tear, snap or damage the windshield.

To avoid this remove your wiper blades or lift them whenever you’re not planning to leave the house for a while.

Save on your next purchase of windshield wiper blades!

Leakage & Condensation

With the amount of freezing and thawing that occurs from normal vehicle use. Condensation will start to build up inside of hard to reach or see areas of your vehicle. Once enough condensation builds up and turns to liquids, it can creep into hard to reach areas and freeze. The water can accumulate in areas like your brakes, power steering and transmission. Leading to damages of your high and low-pressure systems.

Fuel Consumption

The cold weather brings an increased demand for the engine and systems in your vehicle. Extra things need to more power in the winter like pre-heating your vehicle in the cold weather and cab heat.

Usually, the average automotive batteries will last for roughly 3 years. Also, batteries are often manufactured to be able to handle the cold winter season. Yet, the extreme cold can begin pulling voltage out of your car battery.

A majority of truck, car and SUV batteries perform between -1 – 15.5 degrees Celsius. (30 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit) 

Studies show when temperatures drop below -18 degrees Celsius (-.4 degrees Fahrenheit) it’s only able to perform at roughly 50% output.

Due to the colder weather, your tire pressure may begin to drop by 1 psi for every 6 degrees Celsius. (10 degrees Fahrenheit)

Also, if you’re driving around with all-season tires during the colder months of the year. Be aware that the rubber thickness becomes thinner and less stable.

Tires that aren’t adequately inflated may have a negative impact on your vehicle control or completely fail. Which then needs to be changed with your spare tire.

LCD is an abbreviation that stands for Liquid Crystal Display. They function by using electronic signals that pass through liquid crystals. After activated these crystals give off the colors you see in the digital display.

Since there are liquid crystals inside the display. The extreme cold will start to cause the liquid to thicken, making it respond and function slower. The only solution to this problem is to warm up your vehicle until the function returns back to normal

There are 3 different classifications for winter road driving conditions

They are bare roads, partly covered roads and fully covered or covered roads.

Bare Roads

If the roads are bare, this means that all 4 wheels of your vehicle are on a bare surface. They’re further separated by wet bare roads and dry bare roads which are exactly what they sound like. 

Partly Covered Roads

If roads are partly covered it means that 2 wheels will be in contact with a bare surface.

They can be further separated into 3 categories.

  • Partly icy where two wheels are on a bare surface and two wheels on ice.
  • Partly snow-covered where two wheels are on a bare surface and two wheels on soft snow.
  • Partly snow-packed, two wheels on a bare surface and two wheels on packed snow.

Fully Covered or Covered Roads

Full covered or covered roads are road conditions where all 4 wheels of your vehicle will be on snow or ice.

Visibility

Not only do the road conditions affect how we drive our vehicles. But, visibility also affects how well we can see the road to travel safely.

  • Visibility has 3 different classes it’s classified by.
  • Good visibility – can see more than 500 meters.
  • Fair visibility – can see between 250 and 500 meters.
  • Poor visibility – can see less than 250 meters.

Before heading out on your next trip check out the weather network to see the highway conditions

It’s one of the things that unfortunately comes with owning a vehicle, rusting or oxidation.

Rust never takes a break and it’s only mission is to oxidize your vehicle. This process gets sped up with the help of the wetter and rough conditions the winter season brings. But, don’t lose all hope lost there are ways to maintain your vehicle and prevent rust from forming on your truck.

Maintenance for rust prevention is important to stay on top. Especially during the winter months because of the weather conditions and road salts. These and other hazards help to speed up the rusting process on your vehicle.

7 Methods To Prevent Your Car or Truck From Rusting During The Winter

Washing & Waxing Your Vehicle Monthly

Giving a thorough washing and waxing to your vehicle before the snow falls is a good method to prepare. After, going to touchless car washes at least once a month during is a great habit to get into. This will wash off all the accumulating salt and debris from the roads.

Paint Touch Up

Touching up any chips or scratches in the paint. Then, adding a clear coat will stop the oxidation process from ever starting. This is because the metal is never in direct contact with the air.

Rust Inhibitor/Protector Spray

When it comes to preventing rust this is one of the best layers of defence for your vehicle. Apply a coating of a rust-inhibiting spray onto the areas of your car that you want to protect.

These oil-based rust protecting sprays work by attaching to the surface of the metal. Then, creating an airtight barrier that doesn’t allow water and air to combine into rust.

The best & most effective rust proofing sprays are light mineral-based oils. These are able to penetrate deeper into hard to get to areas. Places like door folds, seams, joints and welds where the oxidation process will usually begin.

Also, rustproofing sprays are great for protecting other systems from corrosion. Things like electrical components, brake lines, fuel lines and other hoses.

Undercoating

Getting a certified shop to give your vehicle an oil undercoating. Undercoating will leave a thin membrane on your vehicle. This membrane prevents the water and other liquids from binding to the metal. Stopping the rusting process from ever beginning in the first place.

Car Shelter/Garage & Car Covers

If possible park your car in the garage or buy a popup vehicle garage. These popup garages are great if you have space for one. This will prevent most of the elements from harming it while parked.

If you store your vehicle for the season it’s a good practice to buy a vehicle cover for it. These help to prevent accidental scratches and other damages from sitting over time.

Save on your next purchase of car covers!

Cleaning Your Vehicles Drains

There are various drains on every vehicle that can get clogged with leaves and debris over time. You don’t have to check very often but it’s a good idea to clean them at least once before the winter season.

Vacuum all the dirt out of the carpet and buy some all-season floor mats. The floor mats help to prevent water and salt accumulation which will cause rust over time.

Get rid of any defective wires, cracked caps and burning out spark plugs. They can cause shorts or sudden breakdowns when they finally decide to fail.

Check over all the lights in your vehicle to make sure they function and aren’t burnt out.

Brakes

If it feels like there’s pulling, a new feeling, squealing or grinding then it’s time to replace your brakes. Head over to a shop to get it done before the winter comes or do it yourself.

Block Heater

Make sure your block heater is functional and the cord isn’t tearing. You can plug in your vehicle whenever the temperature dips below 20 Celsius. This is to ensure a smooth start in the morning.

Lubricate Locks Latches, Window Seals & Doors

Lubricating the rubber and mechanical components of your vehicle. Lubricate them with a silicone lubricating compound. This is an amazing habit to get into before the extreme cold comes around.

Spraying everything with a silicone aerosol. This aerosol will help with preventing going out to your locks frozen shut in the morning.

Added Weight In The Box Of Your Truck

If you feel that you need more traction and extra stability. It’s recommended to put between 400 to 600 lbs of sandbags or kitty litter in your truck box. The extra weight helps weigh down the back-end of your pickup preventing fishtailing and other skids.

Heating & Cooling System

Take a look at all the hoses and drive belts for the radiator ensuring they’re free from cracks and leaks. Make sure that your coolant levels are optimal and it doesn’t need replacing. Then make sure that your vehicle’s heaters and defrosters are functioning as normal

Check Fluids

Fill up your windshield washer fluid on a regular basis. Filling it with a temperature rating below -40 degrees Celsius.

Always keep your gas tank filled up above half. This is to prevent condensation in the gas tank that may cause damage to your engine over time.

Exhaust Check

Look over your exhaust system for any cracks or leaks. That may cause carbon monoxide to get released into the interior of your vehicle. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is undetectable by sight and smell.

Check Battery

Batteries have a hard time holding a charge in the extreme cold. This will cause your battery to have a slow drain over the cold winter months.

Test the charge of your battery and clean the terminals so they always stay in contact with the metal.

If your battery is over 3 years old. It’s recommended to replace it before the extreme cold comes. This is to avoid the worry and hassle of your car not starting one morning.

Change your all-season tires over to winter tires. This for the best traction on the slushy winter roads. If you need even more traction you can get studded winter tires, which stop in 22.6m on average. Versus non-studded winter tires which stopped at an average of 27.2m.

Be sure to check over the tire tread that’s left in your tires and that the tire pressure is at adequate levels.

Windshield

Look over your windshield for cracks and chips that can spread even further with the heat and cold.

Clean the interior of the windshield for clear visibility

Replace your windshield wipers with a good pair of blades. That are designed to deal with the harsh elements that come with winter.

Always be sure to scrape the ice off of your windshield when it freezes. Also, be sure that the windshield wiper sprayer isn’t blocked by ice or snow.

Get Professional Check

As always when you want a trained professional to do the maintenance or take a second look over your work. Head over to a repair shop for a winter inspection.

For some of the best winter accessories to keep with you throughout all your winter travels. Head over to our article on the best winter accessories for your vehicle.

The top 11 things to do when preparing your vehicle for winter are:

  • Switch to winter tires when temperatures drops below 7°C (45°F)
  • Check over ignition & spark plugs
  • Look for any burnt out lights
  • Make sure your block heater functions and the cord isn’t damaged 
  • Lubricate all locks, windows & door seals to prevent them from freezing
  • Add between 400 – 600 lbs of sandbags or kitty litter to the box of your truck
  • Look over all hoses & drive belts for any cracks or leaks
  • Keep gas & windshield fluid filled
  • Look over exhaust for any cracks or leaks
  • Check the battery level and replace it if it’s over 3 years old
  • Replace old windshield wipers & check windshield for cracks
  • Go to trained professional for a full inspection

Winter driving conditions can be unexpected and dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions.

There’s poor visibility, icy and snowy roads, gets darker early & always the chance of a blizzard.

Winter tires can’t be used year round. In fact, in some places it’s against the law to keep studded winter tires on after a certain date.

Winter tires are made to be more flexible for a better grip in the winter while all-season tires are harder for the hot weather.

The 7 best ways to protect your car from rusting in the winter are:

  • Wash & wax your vehicle monthly
  • Touch up any scratched or damaged paint
  • Apply a rust protecting spray
  • Undercoat your vehicle
  • Clean the drains in your vehicle
  • Clean the interior & protect with floor mats

It’s recommended during the winter to wash your vehicle at least every 2 weeks to prevent rusting.

The extreme cold may begin pulling voltage out of your car battery.

A majority of truck, car and SUV batteries perform between -1 – 15.5 degrees Celsius. (30 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit) 

Studies show when temperatures drop below -18 degrees Celsius (-.4 degrees Fahrenheit) it’s only able to perform at roughly 50% output.

The 8 most common cold winter weather effects on vehicles are:

  • Rusting & corrosion
  • Fluids thicken when temperatures drop below -20°C(-4°F) 
  • Freezing & breaking windshield wipers
  • Leakage & condensation
  • Fuel consumption
  • All-season tires lose traction & tire pressure decreases
  • Unresponsive LCD display

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