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7 things to prepare your car for winter

7 things to prepare your car for winter

Posted by Glenn Rowswell on 9th November 2012

car winter prep guide

It’s the toughest time of the year for your car’s bodywork with the roads full of mud, rain, salt and other grubby shite. The thing to do is get your car ultra clean and then treat the paintwork to a good quality synthetic sealant wax.

Synthetic sealants are more durable than natural waxes because of the man-made structures, a bit like nylon is more durable than wool. This is a good thing because a couple of coats of sealant should see your paintwork protected for the winter months.

Once you’ve given your paintwork this treatment, avoid contact washes (wiping the car down with a wash-mitt/sponge) because every time you do this, it is effectively rubbing dirt into your paint, scratching the surface. Use a jet wash or hose to wash away grime, most of it should lift off because of the smooth layer of sealant winter prep guide

In an ideal world, you’ll have a set of steels waiting in the garage with winter tyres already fitted to them. This way you can tuck away your alloys from the harsh winter roads, keeping them in tip top condition for the show season. For extra scene points stick space saver stickers on each corner or get a set of wider banded jobbies made up.

As for winter tyres these are the business. In snow they’ll make a Fiesta go places a Chelsea Tractor could only dream of. Their softer compound is naturally more grippy, but the real magic is created by the tyres’ sipes. These are the little slits you see in the tread and are designed to open up and bite into snow and collect it. This snow-on-snow contact provides grip, a bit like when rolling up a snow winter prep guide

If you haven’t got a set of winter wheels and can’t afford a set, not all is lost! With a bit of effort you can prep your wheels for winter too.

Stage one is to give them a good clean, using a strong wheel cleaner, we recommend Dodo Juice Mellow Yellow as this stuff targets the contamination and not the surface underneath. A good tip here is to remove your centre caps as the acid in some wheel cleaners can get  behind the caps making it hard to rinse away. Over time this will react with the plastic which causes the peel you see on some wheel centres.

Once your wheels are nice and clean, spend time giving them a coat of sealant – the same stuff as you use on your paintwork as the same principles apply. Again synthetic sealants are better because of their excellent durability and heat resistance from the man-made winter prep guide

This improves visibility by repelling rain, sleet and snow. There are no two ways about it, this stuff is totally awesome and is a must for the winter months. In fact, it’s so effective that you won’t even need your wipers!

Glass is quite interesting stuff: it’s a reactive material and if looked at under a microscope isn’t actually that smooth. Dodo Juice’s Supernatural Glass Sealant Kit uses something undoubtedly clever and boffi n-like called a ‘covalent silane reaction’ to bond nano particles with the glass.

All that chemical horizontal jogging means that the sealant becomes part of the glass itself, and fills the tiny gaps and scratches in the windscreen surface, making it ultra smooth.

Which in turn gives nothing for moisture to grip to, hence it running away with ease. A top tip here is to clean your wipers with a degreaser or replace them if they’re looking a bit tired. If your windscreen was covered in crap, your wipers will be too!car winter prep guide

Does exactly what it says on the tin – it stops the water in a car’s cooling system from freezing. This is a good thing, because as we all know from leaving a can of Carling in the freezer, liquid expands when frozen. This can cause coolant pipes to split and radiators to crack.

How does it work? Well, freezing temperatures of a liquid is lowered when something is dissolved in it, in theory, anything that is dissolved in water can be used as an anti-freeze but in practice there are a number of limiting factors.

For  example, adding salt to water will lower its freezing point but putting corrosive salt water around your cooling system isn’t something Albert Einstein would endorse!

The substance must not react chemically with anything it comes into contact with, and must also have a high boiling point (due to engine temperatures). Ethylene glycol matches this criteria and when mixed to a ratio of 60/40 with water has a freezing point of below -45˚C. Every days a school day eh?car winter prep guide

Make sure your screen wash is topped up and make sure it’s an antifreeze
version (most ready mixed solutions will be suitable for winter), because a frozen screenwash is a useless screen wash. winter prep guide

In your glovebox
Prepare for the unexpected and make sure your glovebox is equipped with some survival essentials, just in case you find yourself spending a night in your car.

We recommend:
• Plenty of chocolate bars
• Spare bulb kit
• Torch and batteries
• A few energy drinks
• Ice scraper and a can of de-icer

car winter prep guide

In your boot:
Blanket – This keeps you warm by creating an air barrier around you and insulates that area because of the still air mass. It also protects from the wind, which is the main factor in heat removal.
Tool kit – We’re not talking about a Snap-on chest but a bag with a few essentials, like a ratchet set, jump leads and a couple of screwdrivers.
Sledge – Well, if you’re going to get stuck in the snow, you might as well head for the nearest hill and have some good old-fashioned fun.
Kitty litter  – a bit of a weird one you might think, but if you’re not running winter tyres  and you get stuck, put this stuff down in front of your driven wheels and it’ll give you enough grip and hopefully momentum to getting you going again.