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HOW TO PROTECT AND CARE FOR YOUR CAR

OVER THE WINTER

 

Salt - One Of Your Cars' Worst Enemies

While most of us cringe at the thought of using a local hand wash garage, most good hand car washes offer a high-pressure wash to flush the underside of your vehicle if you ask them to.

If you don't have a hand car wash within your area or even one that will be prepared to offer you an undercarriage wash, find a do-it-yourself wash and use the high-pressure hose that you would normally use to wash the body with, alternatively buy a head attachment for your hose pipe at home to flush the underside of the car as best as possible.

We would recommend you wash your car as often as possible in winter as many of us tend to slack off from our regular wash routine in the winter months because of the cold, wet weather.

When you are blessed with a dry day, try and find the time to wash or have your car washed. Easier said than done, we know but well worth the time.


Protect Against The Harsh Winter Weather

Keeping your car waxed/sealed and the rubber and vinyl treated is the best way to maintain a healthy exterior finish.

Traditional carnauba based waxes may not hold up in harsh winter conditions, so if you have not already done so, you may wish to change over to a synthetic wax or sealant for winter protection.

Unlike carnauba waxes, a polymer or acrylic resin sealant can shield against water and road salts. A high quality sealant should last through about three months of a harsh winter.

Additionally application of wax is not as effective in the winter months due to the low temperatures, unless of course you have a heated garage you can work in. However we would recommend that you still make this one of your winter care jobs as it is better to have some protection, than none at all.

Quick detailer sprays are also a great way to buff up the paint and restore a thin film of protection as well.

Other parts of your cars' exterior such as the bumpers, trim and rubber door seals also need extra protection when the temperature drops. These materials are affected by extreme temperatures and the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation causes fading, hardening and cracking, especially in the winter with a reduced ozone layer. When properly maintained; door, bonnet and boot seals will maintain their shape and elasticity longer, providing a better seal. There are products on the market specially formulated and designed to protect and maintain your cars rubber seals.


Interior - Although Inside, They Also Need More Care In Winter

Winter is also hard on car interiors. The cold, dry air of winter also tends to pull out the moisture from your leather and vinyl. It therefore also important to treat the interior prior to the onset of freezing temperatures.

Once the daytime temperatures dip to near freezing, leather and vinyl will not gain a lot of benefit from the application of conditioners at that temperature, we would therefore advise you get this done now whilst we have a relatively mild spell.


Wheels & Tyres - At The Sharp End Of The Harsh Winter Weather

Your cars' tyres are also exposed to the full force of winter elements. Liberal use of a high quality tyre dressing not only
keeps them looking good during the harshest weather but also provides a barrier to the elements and to ozone, that can cause rubber to deteriorate.

Use a dressing with good a UV protection system built in to ensure adequate protection. Apply to both front and back of tyres with a liberal application of dressing. Allow the dressing to soak in for good 5 to 10 minutes before wiping off the excess, during winter the tyre dressing make take longer to cure, some in some cases the 5 to 10 minutes may not be long enough.

Inspect your windshield wipers before the snow and rain come. Replace them if there's any sign of wear.

While you're at it, check your wash fluid and add a winter screen wash making sure you put at least double the normal dose in due to the freezing temperature's and check that antifreeze. A good winter screen wash will help cut through road salt, road grime and mud.

Whilst on the subject of windscreens and freezing it is always worthwhile carrying a bottle of De-Icer in your car as well as having one in the house (in case your locks freeze as well). Our personal favourite is one which is effective up to -50 degrees and safe on paintwork, plastics and rubber.


Other practical steps to keep you safe and motoring

If your car is more than five years old, make sure you check the battery. Every winter, there comes those especially brutal sub-zero morning's that drains the last bit of power from any weak car battery. Even if your battery is relatively new, you should inspect it before winter arrives. Make certain the terminals and posts are free of corrosion (clean with baking soda and water), the terminals are tight and then spray with a lubricating protectant.

Consider investing in a battery conditioner/charger, especially if your motor is being garaged over the winter. Unlike normal chargers, battery conditioners have clever electronics that detects the exact condition of the battery and will provide just enough charge to keep it topped up and at optimum performance without the danger of being able to damage the battery by overcharging. Something that can all too often happen with a simple battery charger.

Have the cooling system checked for the correct concentration and level of antifreeze. If your vehicle needs additional coolant, follow the manufacturer's recommendation for the ratio of water to coolant. If your coolant is more than two years old, it should be flushed and refilled.

Changing the oil and filter before winter is the single most important step in prolonging your vehicle's engine life. Most manufacturers recommend an oil change every 5,000 to 15,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. Your oil service interval will depend on the age and manufacturer of your car.


And finally to your rubber gear

Worn tyres won't give you the traction you need on wet, icy roads.

If your tyres are worn, replace them with a good set of all-weather tyres.

For extra grip in the snow, get a set of snow tyres. Snow tyres should always be used in a complete set of four.

If you live in a rural area you may want to keep a set of tyre chains in your boot, just in case! Likewise, correct tyre pressure ensures optimum handling, stopping power and unnecessary wear.

Remember to check pressure frequently because cold air causes it to drop.

As you can see there are a myriad of products available to clean and protect your vehicle, whether it be paintwork, chrome, tyres or trims.


When travelling in winter, remember to always carry with you an ice scraper, de-icer, waterproof jacket, warning signs, some small snacks to eat, warm flask, boots and a thick blanket just in case you get stuck in any snow.


 


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