What’s more fun than a British winter? The skies are grey, the precipitation can’t make up its mind, and the holidays are a roller coaster more often than not. In the midst of all of your winter preparations the last thing you want to worry about is your car.

While preparing does mean conducting extra car maintenance, there are some forms of maintenance that you should avoid. Take a gander at the items below. With these maintenance to-dos off of your list, you’ll be able to approach the season and the threat of driving in snow with a clearer head.

car care in winter

#Do not use hot water to clear or clean your windshield

As the temperature starts to drop, everyone has to get up earlier to get to work on time. That lack of sleep will encourage many drivers to experiment with unusual methods to get their windows to defrost faster.

If you’re looking to clear long-settled frost off of your windows, or even to clean away some of the salt that’s sprayed up from the road, use a cleaner or chemical mix. Whatever you do, do not use hot water on your windshield. Even going through a car wash may expose your glass to unnecessary stress. The shock of hot after a long, cold night outside will be enough to fracture your car’s window.

Getting into work earlier or removing the salt from your car isn’t worth the expense of a windshield replacement. In terms of vehicular maintenance then, it’s often best to leave more intensive window cleaning for the spring and summer.

removing frost from car windows

#Don’t change your vehicular fluids

If you’ve ever driven to a garage to have your oil, windshield wiper fluid, or other vehicular fluid changed, you may find yourself asking: is this something that can be done at home? More often than not, it is less expensive for you to, for example, lift your vehicle up on boots and replace your oil than it is to take it to a shop. 

That said, do not attempt to do this during the wintertime. While the fluids in your vehicle can stand the kind of weather and temperature fluctuations at the UK is famous for, you shouldn’t be actively exposing the interior of your vehicle to the elements during the wintertime. Above all else, you shouldn’t be attempting this kind of work on your own in the colder months of the year.

Try and make sure that your car is up to snuff before the cold weather hits. If you do need something replaced in the wintertime, be sure to take your car to the shop and let the professionals get you back on the road.

winter car checks

#Don’t neglect your tyres, but don’t overinflate them

The cooler the air is, the faster it may seem like your car tyres are losing pressure. You can blame this perceived loss on a chemical reaction. Boyle’s law states that the air particles in your tyres – and air particles everywhere – shrink when exposed to the cold. As a result, your tyres will appear to lose some of their bulk and support while on the road.

In response to this, you may be tempted to give your tyres a pressure boost. This isn’t a bad idea, but you should avoid filling them up to their stated peak. If you do, you may find your car running awkwardly on a day when the weather decides to snap. One warm day will encourage the air particles in your tyres to grow. If you’ve overinflated your tyres, you’ll be looking at a less-than-optimal run – or even a blow-out on the side of the road. 

Note that tyres you store are going to experience this same fluctuation. As such, don’t fill or release air for your stored tyres until spring rolls around. They’ll be easier to manage once the weather’s stabilised – as much as it ever does.

winter tyres

#Don’t fiddle with your heating or AC

Unfortunately, winter in the UK is fairly inconsistent. While you can expect the weather to generally grow cooler, you’ll also find that it swings back and forth. Some days will be grey and freezing while others will be grey and almost unseasonably warm.

That kind of fluctuation will likely encourage you to vary your use of your car’s AC and heat. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, do what you can to ensure that both of your systems run smoothly prior to the onset of winter. 

If you notice a strange smell filling your vehicle when you experiment with the heat, take it to a shop ASAP. You’ll want whatever mechanical problem is plaguing you handled before you need to use your heat more frequently. The same goes for your air conditioning.

Winter driving is stressful enough on its own. If you find that you do need help getting strange smells, faulty fluid release, or electrical sparks out of your car in the winter, it’s always best to go to a professional. If you can, though, avoid these types of maintenance in the colder months of the year. Your car will thank you for your efforts.