Snow, ice and road salt take a toll on your vehicle every winter, but cold-weather car care mistakes could be doing even more harm. Are you guilty of committing these six common blunders?
1. “Warming Up” the Car
Running your car for a couple minutes before heading off to work may get the chill out of the interior or make it easier to scrape the windows, but letting it sit and “warm up” for much longer can be a problem. Long periods of idling can reduce the life span of the sparkplugs or lead to a “plugged” catalytic converter. Along with the wasted gas, you may pay more than you bargained for just to keep your toes warm on your morning drive.
2. Letting the Gas Gauge Hit “E”
If you’re the type to play chicken with your low fuel light, you could be in for a nasty surprise when the temperatures drop. Having too little fuel in the tank leaves room for air to condense, freeze and form ice crystals, which can then wind up in your fuel lines. Plan to stop for gas more often in the winter, and keep a fuel de-icer on hand for the times when you can’t make it to a pump.
3. Defrosting with Hot Water
Hot water is a fast way to melt ice, but it’s not the smartest way if the ice happens to be on your windshield. The smallest imperfection in the glass can quickly turn into an unsightly crack when steaming liquid hits the cold surface. If you don’t have a garage or car port, your best bet for removing ice is to invest in a sturdy scraper. De-icing products are also available to melt stubborn patches of ice the scraper fails to remove.