Friday 23rd August 2019,

Cheap Tips: How To Maintain Your Car During Winter

Phillip Roberts 12. January 2015 Dirty hands, Magazine No Comments

When I look outside it’s snowing. When I go out it’s freezing cold. I haven’t seen the sun for almost two weeks now. These are the symptoms of winter. If you are at least a bit like me, you wish you were somewhere in Florida or the South of France.  Anyway, I will tell you a small secret. Your 4-wheel best friend doesn’t like it any more than you do. Here are a few things you should do to keep your car running well during winter.


The battery is usually the first thing that goes dead once the temperature hits sub-zero figures. When it’s snowing and the roads are terrible the last thing you want to do is drive and so the car stays outside for a few days. Cold, however, takes its toll on the battery charge. If you don’t believe that, just take the batteries out of your TV remote control and leave them outside the window overnight. Flat as a pancake by morning! To prevent your battery from going flat, just start the car and let it idle for at least 10 minutes, if you’re not going to drive it anywhere. By the way, starting the car and driving it across the street doesn’t really help.


Another common problem is that people forget to check their radiator coolant. After a few years the mixture can fade and all you end up with brackish water combined with something that used to be antifreeze. Next thing you know is that the water in the radiator freezes. We all learned in 5th grade at school that freezing water expands. The same thing happens with the water in the radiator and engine block. If you’re lucky, only the radiator will crack.


I still can’t get over the fact that people living in the south do not have an obligation to change their tyres for winter. As global warming is changing our environment Atlanta, Georgia gets snowfall almost every year resulting in a higher number of accidents in two weeks than Central Europe has throughout the whole year. Just get yourself a set of winter tyres or at least snow chains.

Leave the car idling or not?

We have heard the rumors, we’ve seen the statistics, we’ve read the articles where the whole topic of starting your car and leaving it to idle for a few minutes can damage the car. As far as we at Inopian are concerned that’s all wrong. The engine is running whether it’s idling or driving. So, how can idling damage your car? Like I said, we disagree. Here are the benefits of starting your car and allowing it to idle:

First of all, while you are cleaning snow from your car, it gets nice and warm inside. So you can warm yourself up with some exercise and then hop into a car with the heater already kicking in.

Secondly, your engine and gearbox holds oil. Modern day oils are less viscous than those of the 80’s and 90’s but it still turns into goo. You’ll find that changing gears in a very cold car takes a bit of effort. Same effect happens inside the engine. Steel components become brittle while severely cold and prone to breakage. They should not be exposed to stress until at least, slightly warm.

Last but not least, a cold engine is more thirsty than a warmed up one. It’s all very well to say that modern cars all have fuel injection and that they can manage their own running at any temperature. What this actually means is that the engine management system compensates for the drag of the sticky oil and cold engine with more fuel. You can save up a couple of quid just by letting the car run for a few minutes before you go anywhere.

Hand brake:

My winter best practice is to leave the car in 1st gear when I park it up. The reason is that the hand brake can freeze on the drum or disc. You may think; why?  The frost breaks off once you start moving. Quite right, but the hand brake cable is suffering the same temperature and need not release itself. In that event it is frozen your hand brake stays permanently on.


If you are running a diesel engine, make sure you put in additive to stop the diesel freezing up. Modern fuel usually already has the additive but, you can’t hurt the car if you add some more. It’s better than having it turn into wax. From my own experience, trying to inject waxed diesel is a fruitless exercise. The fuel filter will be solid and the fuel line from the tank likewise. This requires major warming and a change of filter.

Windscreen washer:

In winter the roads are very wet despite the sub temperature. It’s because some countries use salt to melt the ice and snow. That salt then gets thrown up onto your windscreen by the car in front. It’s a real mess. The only way to clean that is of course, windscreen washers, which are no good to you if you have summer liquid that froze at the first sight of a snowflake.

Now that you know how to take care of your car during these cold days, you should be able to drive, thrive and survive. All of the above are very cheap solutions to what could be some very expensive occurrences.

Remember, drive safe and if the weather is very bad, don’t drive anywhere unless you absolutely have to. Just start the engine up for 10 minutes each day so your battery survives the winter.


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About Phillip Roberts

As a little boy my Dad always told me stories about the glorious days of automotive pioneering and days when classics were common. This has influenced me in such an effect I have become a helpless petrol-head...

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…my driving license was still on it's way when I had bought my first petrol-smelling Italian stallion... No, it wasn't a Ferrari... It was Fiat Regata, twin choke Weber 1.5 in neat condition with bad attitude. It wasn't in any way quick by today's standards nor was it a good handler. More like an SUV actually. It was so high that my girlfriend at the time, (a little taller than a bucket,) almost needed a ladder to get into it. However, it was a good car till the first winter came and I wrecked it.

My next car was a BMW E30 1987 2.4d. It is still my all-time favorite. It just had a black metallic paint job done when I bought it and shiny chrome bumpers. As Steel Panther would say say, "that car was bitchin'." I had nice Alpina alloys that I kept getting nicked for. Apparently they were not marked in my documents so each time the police caught me I got a fine.

After about a dozen fines in 3 months I said `sod it` and had BMW amend my documents. This one wasn't really quick off the mark but once it was up to speed you could throw it into any corner and it would come out still alive and pointing the right way. I sold it eventually because I didn't have the time to get it back to original condition and I later found out that the guy I sold it to wrecked it couple of months after. What a shame.

I also had a BMW E46. I liked the look of it but it was useless. It had so many problems one day I wished someone would run into me so I could get rid of it and get some money back. Guess what... a week later a Spanish fellow in a borrowed company Skoda ran up the boot and parked on my back seat. My girlfriend got a panic attack and became so furious she would have beaten him up if I`d let her. However, I had successfully gotten rid of the car.

So this is the story of my beginnings. There are two things that I love other than music and my family. Writing and cars. Why not combine them? I figured there may be more people like me and so I wanted to participate in this amazing opportunity for everyone to share their knowledge, experience and passion, and build something unique while doing it.

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