You love your pre-owned car, and hopefully, you trust it to get you where you’re going safely, no matter the weather. However, it would be foolish to assume that your trusty ride can always handle what mother nature throws at it.
Winter can be challenging. Cold temperatures can wreak havoc on a vehicle’s battery, accessories, and inner mechanisms – even for the best used car brands. That’s why we’ve come up with five very important ways to care for your pre-owned car during the winter months.
Follow these essential tips to keep your car in great shape until next spring. If you skip them, you might wind up taking your vehicle into the shop for a little TLC post-winter.
1. Check the Condition of Your Battery Regularly
Be honest: when was the last time you actually thought about the state of your car’s battery?
It’s the thing that keeps your car running, and yet most of us underestimate how often it should be checked and replaced. This is especially dangerous during the winter months when cold weather slows down your car battery.
At 32 degrees, your car battery loses 35 percent of its strength. At 60 degrees, it goes down to only 40 percent of its original strength. Drivers who live in cold areas should never underestimate the effect that winter weather can have on their batteries.
Here’s what you can do to prevent freezing temperatures from leaving you stranded with a dead battery:
- Park your car in a garage or warm space that’s sheltered from the wind (if possible)
- Purchase a battery blanket and wrap it around the battery when not in use
- Have a mechanic check to see if your battery is fully charged
Fortunately, it’s usually free to have your car battery checked by professionals. So there’s no harm in popping into a shop if you haven’t had your battery inspected in a while.
2. Consider Switching Out the Tires
In the winter, cold temperatures can cause the tread rubber of your tire to stiffen. When this happens, the tire isn’t as flexible and might struggle to grip the ground, causing a loss of friction and potentially dangerous driving conditions.
That’s why many experts recommend putting some winter tires on your pre-owned car once the temperatures drop below 40 degrees. These tires are specifically designed to handle cold temperatures and provide a strong grip, even in the snow.
If you live somewhere with fairly warm temperatures, this might not be necessary. However, anyone who lives in the north or who experiences more than a couple of freezing days a year should certainly consider switching out their regular tires for winter ones.
Not only will you feel more in control of a used car with winter tires, you’ll protect others on the road from collisions when your car could potentially slide out of control.
3. Remember to Check for Furry Friends
When cold weather strikes, rodents and backyard animals often seek out a warm place to build a nest. Unfortunately, sometimes that warm place is inside your vehicle.
The small environment and warmth of your engine block provides an excellent hiding spot for squirrels, mice, rats, birds, and even cats. You might not even notice that an animal has entered the vehicle – until the damage is caused or you inadvertently kill the animal while driving.
To prevent animals from creeping in, try to park your car in a garage that creatures can’t access. You should also keep your car clean – leftover food or snacks might entice small animals to enter. Every few nights or so, check under the hood of your car for signs of an infestation.
Animals often choose to live inside cars that aren’t driven often, so if you have a spare car that doesn’t get much action, always check for hiding critters before driving off.
Believe it or not, this can happen to cars in Albuquerque – and other areas in a desert climate – so it never hurts to pop the hood and see what’s underneath.
4. Monitor for Vehicle Corrosion
Back in the 1970s and 80s, some car brands were known to produce vehicles that were poorly protected against rust. Fortunately, vehicles’ resistance to corrosion has made leaps and bounds in the past few decades, so this isn’t as much of a glaring issue.
Nowadays, it’s rare to spot rust on your car, but not totally uncommon – especially during the winter when your car is exposed to more ice, rain, and snow.
To prevent rust from ruining the underbody of your car, clean it regularly. This can seem like a pain during the winter months when everyone else’s cars are muddy and soiled. The cleaner the underneath of your car stays, the better.
It also doesn’t hurt to bend down and peer underneath the bottom of your car every now and then, just to make sure everything looks as it should. If you spot any sign of rust or corrosion, you’ll need to address the problem quickly with DIY solutions or professional assistance.
Ever tried to wipe away snow during a blizzard with wiper blades that are three years old? Not a good idea, regardless of whether your car is a few years old or 20.
To stay safe when winter storms hit, you need wiper blades that can handle the challenge. Oftentimes, factory-made wipers aren’t quite as heavy-duty as winter wiper blades. They might leave you struggling to see well as you tackle a road covered in snow or ice – and that’s super dangerous!
If you live in a cold environment that experiences foul weather in the winter months, consider installing extreme winter blades that will keep your vision clear and your next drive safe. Even if you don’t buy winter-specific blades, at least replace your old wipers that are hardly doing their job well.
In order to be a top-notch car owner, you’ll need to pay attention to all of these winter-related tips, especially if you live in areas that experience seriously cold temperatures.
Is your car not living up to expectations during this winter? Turn to NM Auto Press for a wide variety of used cars for sale. We’re proud to publish one of the best used cars magazines in New Mexico, and we list a variety of options, from Craigslist Albuquerque, NM cars by owner to dealership offerings.
If you have any questions about used cars for sale in Albuquerque, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’re always happy to help guide you in the right direction!