Winter Car Maintenance Tips
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We’re assuming you've covered the basics (such as the scraper!) and are up-to-date on your car’s regular scheduled service. Don't postpone that — an annoyance in summer can be a hazard that strands you in the winter.
Don't Make Compost in Your Car
As you tackle fall's bounty on your lawn, leave some energy for removing the leaves that find their way into your vehicle.
Leaves, twigs and other organic matter can cause havoc with gutters on your house — and the equivalent on your car. When debris builds up in areas of your car where water is supposed to flow out, you can get leaks or corrosion.
The air plenum near the windshield is a classic spot where this can happen.
If you have a sunroof, open it up and poke around in there, too. Sunroofs have drains that flow water that sneaks past the seals down to the ground. Leaf gunk in there can make for wet headliners or worse.
Less common, but more problematic: Animals may make nests in the engine compartment or airbox. You may need a mechanic and an animal trapper to fully solve this problem.
So-called "all-season" tires have been on the market for decades. Coupled with front-wheel-drive and anti-skid systems, they have allowed many folks to avoid mounting a true snow tire for the winter months. But there are two trends in tires you should be aware of:
Norris Wong / Flickr
1) Styling priorities have led to manufacturers fitting wider, low-profile tires on a variety of cars. Wide and low profile, on balance, makes a tire worse in the snow. Pressures to improve tire fuel economy have also worked against the snow utility of all-seasons.
2) Winter tires have improved their behavior from the era of knobby snow tires. New tread patterns and rubber compounds make them quieter on dry roads, yet even more effective on frozen stuff.