AutoTips Winter Tips page 

Some tips and reminders for winter car operation.

Frozen doors, door locks, and trunk lids-- Rain and condensation that collect around door seals, trunk seals, and in the door locks can freeze in the winter, making opening a door difficult. For preventative measures, some manufacturers recommend applying silicone spray around the rubber door and trunk seals to prevent this problem. The silicone repels water, and keeps out the ice. For the door and trunk locks, a general purpose lubricant such as WD-40 or equivalent sprayed into the keyhole can help prevent freezing.  TIP: If you work in an office, keep a small can of a spray lubricant, such as WD-40 in your desk during winter months. If your car door and trunk locks are frozen, you will be able to spray lubricant from a warm can to help melt the ice. ( If your trunk lock is frozen, you will not be able to get to the can you keep in the trunk to use it in the doors. )

There are dry stick lubricants for the door, trunk, and hood latches. These come in a tube and push out from one end.  One company that sells the lubricant (as well as other auto care products ) is Panef.

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Electrical system: When the temperature drops, the capacity of a battery drops. Oil thickens requiring more power from the starter to turn over the engine. This puts a heavier load on the battery, and the alternator. In most areas of the US, shorter daylight hours mean the headlights will be on for longer periods of time, and if the alternator is a bit marginal in it's output, it may not be able to keep the battery charged with the extra load of headlights, defroster / heater fan. The rear window heater / defroster in most cars draw high currents, and should only be left on long enough to defrost the rear window. For more information on checking the electrical system, see the battery tips section on the AutoTips main Tips page, or the AutoTips Alternator page.

Windows: Windows treated with products such as Rain-x can make scraping light ice easier. Remember to check the window washer cleaner solution to be sure it is the winter kind. Some is sold in bottles that look similar but say "summer mix". Most products for winter are rated to -20 degrees F, although there seems to be variation among brands as to how cold they can actually be used before freezing. Anco sells some winter blades that have part of the support arms covered with rubber to keep snow and ice out of the windshield wiper support assembly.

Also remember to put the ice scrapers inside the car. There are a number of manufacturers of ice scrapers, including Hoppy.

Wiper Blades - clean and check them, lightly lubricate the pivot points of the support arms.

Foggy windows are covered in the AutoTips Defrosting Tips page.

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Driving: Winter driving tips are available at the Canada Safety Council Page , the Wisconsin DOT page. and the Wikitravel winter driving page.

Anti Freeze Tips: An anti-freeze tester is available at most auto parts stores for a few dollars that can be used to check the freezing point of your anti-freeze / water mixture in your car. Most auto makers recommend a 50% anti-freeze / 50% water mixture of coolant.   For ethylene - glycol anti-freeze (the most common type), the freeze point of the mixture will drop as the percentage of antifreeze is increased, up to about 70%. Above 70% anti-freeze, the freezing point actually goes back up, so you should not go less than 30% water in the mixture. In the summer time, 70% anti-freeze has higher boiling point than 50% mix, but actually carries less heat away, so it is best to go with what the manufacturer recommends. NOTE: Some of the low cost anti-freeze testers can be misleading on the freeze point over 70%. It will probably go off scale because of the way they work.

TIRES: Air pressure in the tire drops as the air cools. If your tire pressure was ok in the summer, it may be low in the winter. Dunlop tires has articles about the subject of temperature of tires as well as other good articles at the web site Dunlop Tires - Tire Care Tips and there is also information is available at the Rubber Manufacturers Association.   

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