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Winter is Harsh – Protect Your Car!

Posted by Auto Loan Solutions

In the winter months, you hear frequent complaints from people about cracked, dry hands and static in the air. If your car could talk, you would probably hear similar moaning and groaning. The salt, slush and dry air of winter are as hard on your car as they are on your body. A cold, dark night in the dead of winter is a terrible time to discover that your battery is not up to the task of functioning in freezing cold temperatures.We have gotten off pretty light in the Greater Toronto Area so far this winter, but there’s still a long way to go until spring!

01.26.2015 - Pic - Winter Car Care (1)If you want your car to get you where you need to go, you’re going to have to give it a little extra TLC to get through the winter months. This is especially true if you rely on your car to get you to and from the job that makes your car loan payment even possible. Employers are less sympathetic to car troubles than one might think. If you’re wondering how to get your vehicle ready for the hardcore winter weather ahead, read on!

Get the Car’s Exterior Ready for Snow

We wouldn’t dream of heading out into the cold without our bulky layers to shield us from the elements. Though it may seem like money spent protecting your car from the harsh winter chill could be better used on something like paying down holiday debt, simple routine maintenance can help keep your car running better, and running longer, than one that is woefully neglected.

If you didn’t already take care of it this fall, you can help preserve your car’s paint job with a good waxing. This also makes it easier to clear off the snow, so it’s win-win! Next, make sure you start using a windshield wiper fluid that is rated for cold temperatures. Water or the pink stuff geared to summer temperatures will freeze in the reservoir, and even if they don’t freeze, they will ice up on your windshield in a heartbeat at high speeds and block your visibility. That’s about as fun as it sounds.

If your car is covered in a fine layer of road salt, it can damage more than just the paint. Corrosion is a serious problem for metal (what most of the functional systems of your vehicle are made from), so it’s important to keep your car clean, even in the winter. Just make sure to dry around the doors really well or they can freeze shut. Watching someone try to open frozen doors is pretty comical – until you’re the one literally frozen out.

Test Your Cold Weather Defenses

A working heater in the car is something we take for granted. Make sure warm air is pumping out, and that your defrosters are working properly too. Wiper blades are often left to toil away at clearing snow and ice long after their expected useful lifespan has run out, which is silly, because even very fancy winter wiper blades are pretty inexpensive. Live a little! But really, even a brand new set of the cheapest wiper blades available will be more effective than an old, worn out set.

We can’t stress the importance of winter tires enough, and now that the season is half over you can probably find some good sales on a new set of tires. If you’re using last season’s tires, be sure to check tread depth and tire pressure. Actually, in the extreme weather conditions we are often dealt here in Ontario, you should be checking your tire pressure every week. Tires can lose as much as a pound of pressure with just a drop in temperature of as little as FIVE degrees Celsius.

Consider a Professional Inspection

Maybe you’re pretty handy and have already mastered the art of DIY car maintenance. That’s great! However, if you’re not, shall we say, mechanically inclined, it’s not too late to get your car ready for the winter conditions ahead. For example, if you’re due for a tune-up, don’t put it off any longer. That weird rattle you keep hearing will often get louder as the temperature drops. While you’re at it, have your mechanic ensure that your battery is up to snuff, and that there is fresh antifreeze in the cooling system.

Your vehicle’s brakes are arguably the most important safety system. Be sure to have them checked before they quit when you need them most. Don’t feel silly bringing up odd noises you can hear but have a hard time locating. For example, that low dull hum you hear could be a leak in the exhaust system. That can leave you vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide, a gas dangerous enough that detection systems are now mandatory in Ontario homes. The only thing you should feel silly for is ignoring a potential problem that leaves you stranded on the coldest night of the year!

Little Tricks that Make a Big Difference

There are a lot of little things you can do to keep your car running smoothly in the winter that don’t involve drying doors to prevent freezing or rushing off to see your mechanic. You can try to always keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent the buildup of condensation. You can carry a well-stocked winter emergency kit. You can also clear the roof of your car and your windows of debris, yes, like snow, but also materials like fallen leaves and twigs that may have accumulated during the fall, especially in the area around the wipers.

Taking care of your car in the winter is easy when you know what to do, and it’s certainly easier than getting around on the good old TTC. If you’re reluctant to try to get a car loan because you have a past history of bad credit, Auto Loan Solutions can help. If you’d like to start off with learning more about making car ownership affordable, start by joining the community on our Facebook page. We’d really “Like” to see you there! 

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