The winter season can wreak havoc on a car with the constant onslaught of snow, ice and freezing-cold temperatures. By utilizing a few simple tricks and techniques, it’s possible to fight back against winter and regain mobility. Protecting a car is possible with these five time-tested tricks to get it off and running. Don’t let intense winter conditions win. Use these smart hacks to reduce or eliminate snow and ice problems this season. All of the suggested hacks use an approach that ensures each hack solves more than one problem or attacks the problem in more than one way for the most efficient use of time and resources. By preparing ahead of time, it’s possible to avoid the most common car issues in the winter and keep the car running in optimal condition.
Getting Out of a Sticky Situation
Getting stuck in the snow requires an intelligent way to get out. Four-wheel drive vehicles can generally get out of most situations since each wheel operates independently. However, with a two-wheel drive vehicle, the vehicle could end up spinning its wheels all day to no avail. There are a few ways to get out of a situation like this. Look around the vehicle for any rocks or fallen branches. Place those under the stuck wheel to give the vehicle extra traction.
If there is nothing to use and there is no way to call for help, use the floor mats. Place them under the tires, and then try to drive forward to free the vehicle. It’s not a bad idea to keep a set of old towels, blankets, or even sheets of cardboard in the vehicle for this purpose. The added benefit of blankets is that they can also come in handy to help people stay warm. Don’t make the mistake of running the vehicle’s heat when stuck in the snow. It’s possible for the exhaust pipe to get covered with snow, which can create a dangerous situation within the cabin that can result in asphyxiation.
Defrosting Car Windows
Foggy windows can make it difficult to see, and it can create a dangerous driving situation on cold, winter mornings. Turning the heat on can generally make the problem worse. When left with the option of no heat or foggy windows, most people opt for the foggy windows. Using shaving cream to coat the windows is one way to prevent them from fogging up. It creates a protective film that has ingredients similar to what is found in a commercial defogger. It’s a cheap, easily accessible and simple way to keep the car’s windows clean and clear.
Try placing a sock filled with cat litter near the rear windows and on the front dashboard. Some people get a large box of cat litter and place it in the trunk of the vehicle instead of using a sock. Cat litter absorbs both moisture and smells, and it can prevent the fog from occurring in the first place. When possible, point the car East at night so that it faces the sun in the morning. This way the sun will help to defrost the car’s windows in the morning.
The Multiple Uses of Old Socks
Get some large, oversized socks and keep them in a plastic bag in the glove compartment. These socks will serve several purposes. Place the windshield wipers in the up position and place the socks over them to keep them from freezing over with ice during the night. When removing the socks, place them in a plastic bag and keep them in the glove compartment. The socks can be pulled over a pair of shoes should the need arise to walk in the snow. This will enable better traction, and it can help avoid slipping around on the ice. Socks can also be used to cover the side mirrors to prevent them from freezing up overnight.
When storing a vehicle for the winter, stuff socks in the exhaust pipe to prevent small animals from making a nest. Also, put mothballs inside of the socks and place them in and around the vehicle. This will deter most animals like mice and rodents from attempting to take up residence in the stored vehicle. The vehicle might need to be aired out a bit in the spring, but it beats having chunks of seating torn out and damage to essential components.
Dealing With Frozen Components
There are a few methods to get rid of snow and ice that has accumulated on the windshield. Don’t use hot water to melt ice or snow off a windshield. This can crack the windshield, and it may even make the situation worse. Also, don’t turn on the windshield wipers to sweep away the snow or ice. The ice may cut through the rubber on the wipers, and this can make them less effective when the need arises to use them for their intended purpose.
Get a dedicated ice scraper to get rid of the ice that forms on the windshield. In a tough situation, a credit card also works well. Another good option involves using about two-thirds vinegar to one-third water in a solution. This solution can help cut through the snow and ice that has accumulated. Additionally, coating the rubber door jams with cooking spray, helps ensure that the doors don’t freeze shut. This can be a lifesaver in extremely cold climates.
General Safety and Maintenance Considerations
Issues with the car slipping on the road can be reduced by placing more weight in the back of the vehicle to help create better contact with the road and reduce the chance of sliding. Keeping several two-gallon bottles of water in the back of the vehicle can help add additional weight and provide the vehicle with more traction. The water bottles will likely freeze and become blocks of ice in very cold areas, but they also offer the advantage of having water available to stay hydrated. Put the frozen water bottles on the hood of the car if it’s still warm, or break chunks of ice off and suck on them to stay hydrated. Place heavier belongings in the trunk to help increase stability and traction, and make sure each item is secured. This will ensure that the vehicle has more traction and doesn’t lose contact with the road.
Several issues can be avoided by getting a cover that fits over the vehicle. However, problems may occur even with a car cover. It’s a good idea to use engine oil that is designed for cold weather, and choose a synthetic oil to ensure that the vehicle can handle the biting cold. Even if the vehicle is designed for conventional engine oil, it’s possible to use synthetic oil with no problems. Rumors that synthetic engine oil will cause leaks are based on the early history of synthetics, and it’s no longer a valid concern. Also, don’t believe the myth that a car engine must warm up when it’s cold outside. Most vehicles made after 1980 have little need to warm up before driving away. The engine control unit automatically detects oxygen levels and adjusts the fuel-air ratio to match.
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