Simple Tips for Winterizing Your Ride

Winter is coming and with it, potentially harsh conditions for your cars. Today I want to share with you some simple ways to prepare your car for colder temps.

Did you know the sticker inside modern driver side car door jams suggest the manufacturer specs on the front and rear tire inflation? Contrary to what many of us have been taught, the sidewall of the tire is not the place to look for help with proper tire inflation. Manufacturers may, and often do, have different front and rear tire inflation recommendations specific to the car you drive.

Most owners get annoyed with the TPMS sensors (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) lights coming during autumn or winter days. As the weather gets cooler, the tires will naturally contract, creating the need for more air. I typically inflate my tires about two pounds higher as to compensate for the temperature fluctuation. I find that this additional pressure typically deactivates that pesky tire warning light.

Additionally, many drivers opt for nitrogen filled tires to circumvent this issue. Tires filled with nitrogen gas expand and contract far less than air-filled tires when exposed to warm or cold temps. When you see green valve stem caps on tires, that indicates nitrogen filled. Regular air tires will have black valve stem covers. Can you mix the two? Yes, but doing so will negate the ability of the nitrogen to retain a consistent psi.

Are you having to keep your car outside during the frosty mornings? Consider aiming the windshield to the east so as the sun rises, it will help melt the frost. Additionally, be mindful of your washer fluid levels freezing point as they can and do vary. And while on the topic of washer fluid, you’ll need to check the integrity of your wiper blades. If they skip or smear on your windshield it is time to replace them. I’ve found in my own experience, it’s a lot more fun to do this on a nice sunny fall day, rather than in a rainstorm.

Another wiper tip, extend your wiper blade stanchions out to keep the blades from freezing to the windshield.

Applying a silicone based lubricant around the door and trunk gaskets of your car will remove the moisture which freezes and prevent your doors from sticking to the rubber moldings. It does work and you will use less choice words on a cold morning! Also, waxing your headlights with regular wax, will repel the slush snow or freezing rain off the lenses and prevent visibility from being impaired.

One last thing to consider is to start your car daily in cold weather. The battery will lose some of its cold cranking power in colder weather. Starting your car daily and letting it run for a minimum of 15 minutes should give your battery sufficient recharge time. Please note that you should never jump a frozen battery. Frozen battery casings may be warped and compromised structurally because of ice expansion, which creates weak spots. The expanding gas from charging remains trapped by the ice and unable to vent, the pressure could cause an explosion of acid and shrapnel pieces from its casing. Not a fun way to spend the day!


Jason Paynter is a classic car appraiser, collector and enthusiast. He is the author of the book, Drop, Throttle, Oversteer: Collecting & Investing in Classic Cars, and host of the Classic Car Corner podcast, on iTunes, Spotify and all your other favorite outlets. He lives in Louisville, KY with his beautiful wife and three sons who are (heaven help him) of driving age. Jason is also a certified appraiser and would be more than happy to assist in helping valuate your collection or answer any of your questions about cars. Email him at jason@gdherring.com.

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