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Winter Car Care Tips
As the temperatures plummet, the internet starts to bristle with many tips, but few hints exist to encourage car longevity and reliability during the harsh winter months. Here are some tips for the same
1. Prior to making a cold start in low temperatures, leave the ignition on for approximately five seconds, before activating the starter motor. This will allow fuel pumps time to pressurize and the car’s electrical system will have the chance to complete any diagnostics check first, saving the battery the extra stress of performing these tasks while it has to churn the engine over.
2. During starting, depress the clutch pedal. This ensures that the starter motor does not have to rotate the gearbox shafts within cold and thick transmission oil. The result is less stress on the battery and starter. Once the engine has started, release the clutch pedal slowly.
3. Never rev the engine, by ‘blipping’ the throttle, immediately after a cold start. When cold, engine oil takes longer to reach the moving parts and so revving the engine needlessly will increase wear rates, as well as wasting fuel. Never run the engine in an enclosed space, the exhaust gases are still poisonous even on the most modern of vehicles.
4. Do not subject a cold engine to heavy loads immediately. Once started, allow the engine to idle for at least 10 seconds with no load, prior to selecting a gear.
5. Engine oil has to be at an optimum temperature to offer the fullest protection. Therefore increase engine revs and load progressively as the engine warms. Note that lubricating oil takes longer to reach its ideal working temperature than coolant does.
6. Transmission oil is also thicker at lower temperatures and you might find that some lower gears (usually first and second) will be harder to engage at speed, until the transmission warms thoroughly. Double-declutching can help.
7. Turn off any electrical accessories as soon as you do not need them. Leaving high-current sapping items engaged, such as heated rear windows, mirrors and seats, deprives the battery of current that could be used to recharge it.
8. If you cover many short journeys, it is possible that your engine never gets the chance to warm up fully during winter. If your average journey length is under a few miles, take your car for an extended drive at least once a fortnight, at speeds in excess of 45mph, assuming the conditions are safe enough to do so. This will give the battery more chance to recharge and, if fitted, will allow the particulate filter to regenerate on diesel cars.
9. The dirt on your paint can abrade the surface if anything brushes past it. Therefore, wash your car regularly. Direct a hose beneath the wheel arches and under the floor, to help remove any corrosive salty deposits. Cleaning alloy wheels is a vital way of reducing the risk of corrosion taking hold.