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Brace yourselves! Winter is finally here. While this season is a welcome departure from the otherwise hot and humid climate, you’d be a little worried if you’re a car owner, for the cold and frost can impact your vehicle adversely.

However, there’s no reason to fret. This article seeks to offer essential winter car care tips that can help keep your vehicle in top shape. Read on to know more:

Winter Car Care Tips:

1. Warm-up your car

Remember that today, starting a car for the first time in the morning has become a lot easier than what it used to be a decade ago. That being said, you must know how to cold-start your car(s).

Essentially, a cold-start is the first time you crank up your engine after a long break. For example, if you decide to ride your car after it has been stationed for a week or so, you may need to cold start it to get it rolling. Even an overnight stop can cause some problems in your car the next morning during harsh wintry days.

What do you do? When you crank up the engine after a long stationary period, you will find the RPM is higher than usual. Generally, cars idle at 700-1000 RPM, depending on the category of the vehicle. But at the time of revving the engine, you may notice that your car is idling at 1500-2000 RPM — much higher than usual.

The RPM shoots up, mainly because the engine oil settles at the bottom of the engine, causing friction. To avoid any damage to the engine parts, you MUST NOT REV during the warm-up process. Cold starting is performed to warm up the engine.

This process is essential to preserve the health of your car’s engine and its vital parts. While you continue this warm-up process for 3-4 minutes, the ECU diagnoses the engine parts thoroughly. It ensures that the engine oil/ lubricant reaches the optimum level and temperature.

There are some Dos and Don’ts that you must pay attention to while your car warms up:

  • If you have power windows, do not roll up/down them as this may harm the motor that moves the window panes.
  • Do not use wipers, as the motor that moves the wipe can be damaged.
  • Do not turn on the AC, heater, or any other electrical part for that matter.
  • Ensure the lights (both headlamps and cabin lamps) are turned off before you crank up the engine.
  • Don’t turn on the music/radio.

Following these steps will ensure that the battery amperage is used only to start the engine. It preserves battery life as well, which brings us to our next point.

2. Check battery health

It is advisable to keep a strict check on your car’s battery health, regardless of the season. Remember, the battery is the life source of your car’s engine (apart from the fuel, of course). The battery runs all the vital electricals in your vehicle – headlamps, horns, blinkers, music — you name it. If you stay in a city that gets too windy during this season, you must not ignore this winter car care tip.

You can check your battery using specialized tools or take your car to a trusted mechanic. But how do you know if the battery does need a check-up? Though we suggest periodic examination of battery health, there are specific indications you can always look for:

  • A weak battery takes longer ‘cranks’ to start the engine.
  • A weak battery may make a ‘clicking’ sound sometimes. If you hear it, know that something may be wrong
  • Flickering headlamps are a clear indication of dropping battery health
  • A reduced honking sound or the blinker’s brightness may indicate depleting battery power.
  • Check Car Battery Corrosion

Should you spot any of these warning signs, get the battery checked and replaced, if needed. While you may not face a problem immediately, complications could begin as soon as it gets frigid during this season. Therefore, it is better to change the battery now than suffer later.

3. Maintain tyre pressure

Another winter car care tip is checking the tyre pressure before you start for the day. In cold weather, car tyre care is very important. The right tyre pressure is crucial to ensuring your safety on the road.

The science behind this is that when the temperature goes down, tyre pressure decreases, increasing the chances of a flat tyre. In some regions where the mercury dips below zero, you may be surprised to see how much it affects the tyre pressure.

In keeping with this, it is advisable to use a pressure gauge and measure tyre pressure every morning. Remember, an adequately-inflated tyre has a reduced risk of puncture.

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4. Clear the fog off the windshield

Ever tried driving around in your car, on a cold, wintry night, with the windows rolled up? You will notice the windshield fogging up almost instantly. The condensation happens due to different temperatures — while it is cold outside, the inside of your car remains hot and humid. Needless to specify, a driver will find it extremely challenging to drive in these circumstances.

But our winter car care tip has got you covered.

If your car has a defogging mechanism, you only need to turn it on. But, if it doesn’t have such features, you can buy an anti-fog solution to get rid of the fogging.

First, clean your windscreen from the inside and apply the anti-fog solution onto the screen and the windows. Then, rub it with a paper towel. This will not allow water droplets to accumulate on the surface of your windscreen or windows. However, make sure you don’t leave any residue that could potentially blur your vision, considering that would defeat the purpose.

Note: This car care tip can be handy during the rainy season as well. However, in that case, simply switching on the AC may solve the problem.

Suppose your city experiences sub-zero temperatures often. In such circumstances, finding your car covered in snow early in the morning may not come as a shocker. The real problem is if ice forms and accumulates on the windscreen.

In that situation, do not use hot water to melt the ice as that can crack the glass instantly.

5. Check coolant level

A coolant helps to maintain the temperature inside the engine. However, you may not know that this engine fluid also keeps the engine from freezing when it is extremely cold outside. That’s precisely why it is also called ‘antifreeze’.

Therefore, our winter car care tip for you is to check whether your car is running low on coolant. Should it be low, refill it before the winter hits.

Importantly, mechanics advise using a 1:1 (50-50) mixture of coolant and water in your radiator. This concoction is more effective than using only the coolant in maintaining the optimum engine temperature. Also, check for any leakage in your engine bay that could cause essential engine fluids to leak.

Pro tip: During the inspection, if you find any impurities like tiny particles or debris floating in your coolant, flush it out and replace the fluid.

6. Fill up the fuel tank

During the winter, moist air inside the fuel tank can cause condensation. Further, the water droplets inside the fuel tank can crystalize at freezing temperatures, causing significant problems. We all know that water causes rust on metal, and we don’t want that to happen inside our fuel tank.

Therefore, our winter car care tip is to fuel-up the tank until the fuel gauge hits the red mark. If you want, you can be optimistic and keep it half full, but never empty the tank.

The logic is simple; the more the fuel, the lesser the fuel tank’s space for condensation and crystallization. This is one car care tip you must not ignore.

7. Check headlights and fog lamps

Fog, a common phenomenon in northern India, impacts on-road visibility adversely. In such scenarios where visibility is alarmingly low, fog lights play a vital role. Therefore, it is advisable to check your car’s headlights and fog lamps before the winter sets in.

Most modern cars come pre-fitted with fog lights. However, if you own an old car that doesn’t have a fog lamp, we suggest you get one from the market. Moreover, if you notice a yellow tint in the headlights that could be reducing the illumination, consider fixing it as early as possible.

Extended Winter Car Care Hacks

These were some of the rudimentary winter car care tips for you. It is now time to delve a little deeper and get fastidious with some of the safety measures. You must have heard the familiar maxim — sometimes it’s the journey that matters more than the destination.

This part of the article seeks to ensure that all your winter drives are safe and enjoyable. With that in mind, give our extended winter car care tips a read.

1. Keep a portable battery and phone charger

Imagine you ignored all battery warnings, and your car broke down in the middle of nowhere. Getting stranded on a cold wintry night isn’t a great feeling, after all. To complicate matters and compound problems, you find your phone battery has died as well. What do you do now?

You don’t have to worry if you carry a portable battery and a phone charger with yourself. A portable battery can jump-start your car and get you out of the mess in no time. However, it would be best if you carried a jump-start cable for that too.

So, here is a short rundown of things you need to carry in your winter car care kit to solve power-related problems:

  • A powerful portable battery
  • A phone charger
  • A pair of jump-start cables

2. Don’t forget first-aid

While every car comes with a basic first-aid kit., it may be of much help should you sustain severe injuries. Therefore, we suggest you carry another first aid kit that contains bandages, gauze (enough to treat two people), a pair of scissors, antibiotic ointment, and some pain killers.

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Although it’s technically not a winter car care tip, carrying a set of warm clothes can always help if the mercury takes a dip further. You should also have some dry food and water if you plan to travel through remote places.

In some regions of the country, winters can be ruthless and unpredictable. So, adopting these standard safety measures will ensure that you stay safe and warm, both inside and outside your car.

If you love going on long drives, carry a flashlight, matchbox/lighter, and a bag of kitty litter in the car. Kitty litters do a great job of absorbing humidity.

Maintain Your Motorcycle in Winter

If you own a two-wheeler, this section of the article is for you. Bike enthusiasts would know the hassles of starting a motorbike once the engine has gotten cold in the winter. After countless kicks and struggling with the ratcheting lever, the bike would still not start. Thankfully, those days are now gone for good.

Before wasting any more time, let’s begin with a few winter-specific tips for your precious mean machine.

Primarily, there are three components of a motorcycle that require the most care – the engine, battery, and tyres! Moreover, it depends on what you intend to do with your bike during the winter — are you going to ride it or keep it aside for the winters to fade.

Remember, riding your motorcycle during the winters won’t cause any hassle. On the contrary, putting your two-wheeler aside indefinitely will create a few challenges.

1. Take care of the engine

Riding your bike becomes all the more difficult when it is snowing outside. So much so, you may decide not to ride it anymore until the weather becomes a little forgiving. In that case, always try to park your motorbike inside a garage. If you are parking it outside, using a good quality cover for the motorcycle is a must.

Now, understand that two liquids are running through the engine – engine oil and fuel.

Perform a thorough examination of the engine oil and coolant (if your motorbike’s engine is liquid-cooled). If the engine oil has become dated, change it. The same goes for the coolant level; if it is lower than usual, top-up.

Unlike cars, motorcycle engines and parts are more susceptible to winter woes. These days, most bikes come with fuel injection (Fi) system, which lends your mean machine immunity from weather changes and keeps its performance steady.

However, this is not common for engines with a carburetor.

For engines with the Fi fuel system, it is recommended to fill up the fuel tank to the brim, as this will prevent rusting inside the tank. Also, consider treating the fuel inside the tank with a fuel stabilizer. This product helps to preserve the fuel and neutralize the ethanol.

For engines with a carburetor, you have the provision for draining the fuel out of the tank. However, we don’t recommend it. You can follow the same process we mentioned for the Fi engines. It will keep your engine safe from rusting.

2. Save the battery!

The engine aside, it is the motorcycle battery that’s the most vulnerable. If your motorcycle has a lead-acid battery inside, take it out. Traditional lead-acid batteries deplete at a much higher rate than the new lithium-ion batteries.

So, putting your bike away for an indefinite period of time isn’t a great idea.

What do you do in such a situation? Take the battery out and connect it to a trickle charger, if possible. This will keep the battery in good condition.

 3. Monitor tyre pressure

The problem with motorcycle tyres is they tend to get flat spots at points that remain in constant touch with the ground for extended periods. This condition worsens if the tyres have low air pressure inside. Therefore, it is recommended to inflate your tyre adequately.

If you plan to have your motorbike parked inside the garage throughout the winter, consider putting it on the center stand. Also, try keeping both the tyres off the ground by using additional stands.

More Winter Care Hacks for Bikes

It is not over yet. We have a few more winter bike care tips and tricks up our sleeves.

1. Wash your motorcycle

Clean your bike thoroughly before you decide to put it away inside your garage. Once you wash the dirt and mud off the bike, apply a coat of wax on the body to protect the paint. Further, you can use silicon protection on the plastic parts of your bike to keep them shining.

2. Use chain lubes

Get your bike chain cleaned and lubricated from the service center. You could also buy a bottle of WD40, a spray that will wash the dirt and mud off the chain. You can then use a lubricant on the chain to avoid rusting.

There you go! We believe this article will serve its purpose of providing you with all the guidance needed to maintain your car(s) and bike(s) this winter.

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