When the dark season comes, you see them everywhere: hooded figures armed with ice scrapers and the like. De-icing salts, dirt and moisture stubbornly adhere to paint, bodywork and windows. Special care is required in the freezing temperatures. With the following checklist, slush, ice and salt don't stand a chance – so you can get through the winter with your car carefree and get going again in the spring without any problems!
Nothing works without it – check the car battery
The car battery is the cause of most car breakdowns – 40 percent of all incidents can be traced back to it. Especially in winter, when temperatures drop below freezing, it shows itself to be particularly vulnerable. Especially for older specimens, the cold can even mean the death sentence, which in turn leads to a strike of the starter. If you notice tired sounds at temperatures around zero, you should definitely have the battery checked and replaced if necessary.
Tip: Learn how to properly care for your battery and how jump starting works in our article on car batteries .
Avoid engine damage – check the radiator antifreeze
The antifreeze in the cooling system should survive at least -25 degrees Celsius. Otherwise there is a risk of damage to the engine. Therefore it is important to check the coolant level. This is easily possible in the workshop or at any service station.
Tip: Top up with enough antifreeze to prevent the fluids from freezing up. Check at this opportunity also the filling level of the windshield wiper system.
Prevent icing – check door locks
In acute situations door lock de-icer helps to open iced locks. To prevent freezing in advance, it is best to spray the door locks regularly in winter. Universal spray or other non-resinous oil is suitable for this purpose. Newer models do not need a lock at all, so that this problem is no longer a problem, but door seals also need special protection in winter. Remedy is provided by special "rubber care".
Tip: If the deicer is in the glove compartment of the car, you have bad cards with frozen locks. Therefore this belongs absolutely in the bag. That way, you'll have it handy even if a mailbox, garage or bike lock gets iced up.
Bright prospects – maintain the paint
Winter dirt such as an aggressive, salty alkali can have a corrosive effect on already pre-damaged paint. Many drivers make the mistake of washing their cars less frequently in winter than in summer. But especially in the cold season the paint needs intensive care.
Tip: frequent drivers should wash their car about twice a week. For infrequent drivers, once or twice a month is also sufficient. Tips for a particularly gentle and intensive car hand wash can be found in our article Washing the car yourself.
Important: Use a soft whisk when removing snow from the bodywork. The ice scraper may only be used on windshields!
Get rolling – change the tires
Situationally, winter tires are mandatory, especially in slush, ice and snow. If you want to be safe on the road in winter, you should make sure that your tires are not older than 10 years and have a tread depth of at least 4 millimeters. By the way: If you are driving with summer tires in winter and cause an accident, you can expect a fine and mail from the insurance company.
Tip: All-weather tires can be an alternative to save having to change tires twice a year. You can find out whether this is an option for you in our article on all-season tires.
Full speed ahead – driving in icy and slippery conditions
Before turning the ignition key, clear the car of ice and snow and turn on the heating (do not warm it up while stationary). When pulling over, press the accelerator pedal gently and be sure to avoid jerky steering movements in winter weather conditions. If you do start to skid, disengage the clutch and steer carefully against it. If the car stops responding at all, it is advisable to apply the brakes fully with ABS/ESP. You can find out more about such safety features in our article on driver assistance systems.
Tip: Keep your distance when driving on black ice! In winter, the rule of thumb is to keep twice as much distance as usual. This corresponds to about six car lengths.
Conclusion – cars need special care in winter
Pay extra attention to your car in the winter, it will thank you in the spring. Take the dangers to motorists in freezing temperatures seriously.
If transferring to public transportation is not possible, be sure to plan for longer travel times and wait for road service to do its job. Drive carefully and make sure you have adequate lighting. Safety first!