Winter Car Care for People Who Park Outside

car tire in snow

Parking outside in the winter is the pits, especially if you live in a cold, snowy climate. Caring for your car correctly in a cold climate is critical for car maintenance. Especially if you have a custom car, it’s important to protect the paint.

Clean Off Any Salt

If you like in a snowy or icy climate, you are more than familiar with slick roads and truckloads of ice salt. And while ice salt may keep your freeways safer, it can be really damaging to your car. All cars in winter will encounter ice salt, but if you park your car outside, you run the risk of your car being sprayed with salt as the snow removal crew comes through.

To care for your car, even in the winter, wash it often. You can take it to a car cleaner or go winter-friendly waterless and clean it yourself. You'll also want to put some sort of protective wax on your vehicle. A polymer wax barrier can be added at almost any local car wash and will protect those hard-to-reach areas of your car.

salt on a winter road

Protect Your Windshield

If you park outside in the winter, your windshield takes a hit. In order to make sure that your windshield is protected from the elements, start by making sure there are no small cracks or chips. Cracks and chips have a way of rapidly expanding in the winter months and if not taken care of before the freezing temperatures hit, you could be left with one big crack.

You will also want to protect your windshield in other ways during the winter. When you park outside overnight, make sure to cover your windshield with a protective covering. It is also a good idea to leave your wipers raised overnight in case it freezes outside. If your wipers are not raised, you run the risk of having them freeze to the windshield.

Lastly, you can make your own windshield de-icing spray. Take two parts rubbing alcohol and one part water and combine them in a spray bottle. Shake well and then spray liberally on thick chunks of ice on your windshield. You can also create a de-icing solution by combining three scoops of road salt to a spray bottle of water. This solution can also be used to melt the ice off your windshield and speed up your morning routine.

Maintain Your Tires and Fluids

There are also just a few basic things you should do for your car as the winter rolls around in cold cities. If necessary, swap out your regular tires for snow tires. Especially if you only have a two-wheel drive, snow tires can make a big difference. It’s also important to check your tire pressure once every week or so to make sure that the change in temperature outside hasn’t brought a change in pressure inside.

You’ll also want to check your car’s coolant levels to make sure that it has enough anti-freeze to get you through the winter.

Keep a Repair Kit in the Car

Emergencies happen, and if you park your car outside all winter, you can increase your risk of auto-related issues. If for some reason you end up in a pinch, you will want to make sure that you have a car emergency kit on hand. Car emergency kits can be customized to your situation and season.

While it’s always important to have road flairs, first aid kits, and a little food on hand, it’s also important to have warm winter clothing stocked up. Keep a coat and some gloves and socks in the back of your car, a blanket too. Even if it’s just a space blanket, the extra warmth may keep all of your fingers and toes intact while you wait for help to arrive.

Other important things to include in the kit are a knife, a flashlight, jumper cables, a cigarette lighter charger and any necessary medications that you cannot go without. Even though help will certainly be on the way, you want to be prepared for any icy breakdown.