Wet and cold wintry weather can damage a car. Thinking ahead, however, can help drivers to protect their cars and minimise the amount of damage done.
In bad weather conditions, road salt is spread on the roads, sometimes as much as 60,000 tonnes per day across the UK. This salt will accelerate the corrosion of a car's external surfaces.
Preparing a car thoroughly before the onset of winter will reduce the harmful effects of increased grime, road salt and low temperatures. Using a specially formulated pH-neutral car shampoo, followed by a sealant, will protect the exterior paintwork. Some waxes can protect a car for up to six months.
Glass is especially hard to keep clean in winter but, again, special products will help to make this easier. If the car has been left standing for a while, check that the wiper blades are not frozen to the windscreen as if they are switched on the motor, or the windscreen wipers, could be damaged.
Use proper windscreen washer fluid with an additive to reduce the risk of freezing, rather than anti-freeze as it will damage the paintwork.
Do not forget the bumpers, door and window seals and the interior. Rubber and plastic surfaces can be protected to prevent corrosion and sticking in very cold weather.
In the winter months the lights, heater and windscreen wipers are all used much more and this increases the load on the car's battery. Batteries, like all other components of a car, will eventually fail (usually a battery will last for five years) so before winter the state of the battery should be checked and also check that all the connections are clean and greased.
Check that tyres have at least 2/32" of tread, preferably more, and also check the tyre pressure as during cold weather tyres can lose pressure.
Anti-freeze is vital in cold weather conditions to keep a car moving. Anti-freeze that is glycol-based should be changed every two years. Use a mixture of 50 per cent anti-freeze and 50 per cent water for protection down to minus 34 degrees centigrade. It is also important not to mix anti-freeze types, so check the owner's manual for the correct type. If, when the car is started, there is a continuous squealing noise, the water pump and possibly the cylinder block could be frozen. Stop the car immediately to avoid damage. If the car starts overheating several miles from home, the radiator could be frozen and again the car must be stopped and allowed to thaw to prevent damage.