How to prepare your car for winter

It’s vital that your vehicle is in proper working order before the winter months to prevent break downs and costly repairs at the last minute. Cold weather can wreak havoc on your vehicle - so don't wait until it freezes - winterize your car or truck with these expert tips from Turtle Wax.

Contents

Use this table to easily navigate throughout the article by selecting sections relevant to your car care needs.

Interior Cleaning Checklist

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Winter Car Care Kit

  • Winter can be unpredictable; so don’t wait for the first snow to fall to put the ice scraper, de-icer and snow shovel in the car. Keep an emergency winter kit in the boot in case of an accident or other bad weather situation. 

  • Recommended emergency items include a small first aid kit, flashlight, blanket, gloves, shovel, jump cables and road flares. 

  • Also, be sure to remove any water-based products in containers that can freeze and crack, as well as any unnecessary items that can weigh down your car and lower fuel efficiency.
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Keep Your Interior Clean

  • Winter elements can also cause damage to the inside of your car. When tracked-in mud, slush, and snow enter your car, prevent it from staining your interior and keep your floor mats clean, use Turtle Wax® Interior 1® Multi-Purpose Cleaner & Stain Remover

  • It may be useful to purchase some winter car mats which can be easily wiped or removed to prevent muddy mess.

Exterior Cleaning Checklist

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Check Tires (Tread depth & Pressure)

  • Damaged tires are no match for sleek, slippery roads. Get tires winter-ready by examining for thin or uneven tread wear, which reduces traction and can be very dangerous in winter weather. 
  • Cut or damaged sidewalls are also weak areas that can collapse under severe weather conditions. Remember to check the air pressure at least once a week to ensure the best traction and mileage.
  • Once your winter tires are in good shape, apply Turtle Wax Wet’N Black Ultra Wet Tire Shine to help repel winter elements for months!

I love this stuff. Affordable, quality, and even smells good. Makes new tires look showroom fresh and old tires shine.

Turtle Wax Wet'N Black Ultra Wet Tire Shine - Timothy
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Headlight Check

  • Visibility can become distorted more often in the winter weather due to fog and rain. Ensure your exterior lights are doing their best possible job by keeping them clear and clean.

  • Use Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer Kit to restore dull or yellowed headlights and give them clarity. To find out how to use this product, read our How-To Restore Headlights article.

  • If your headlight bulbs need replacing, make sure you do this in plenty of time before you need to drive in the dark.
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Wash & Windscreen Wipers

  • Maintaining proper fluid levels is critical to keeping your car working properly during the winter. 

  • A common mistake is forgetting to replace summer screen wash with a winter blend that will not freeze when the temperature drops.

  • It may also be worthwhile investing in some winter wiper blades as they have a sturdier frame that won’t freeze or clog with ice.
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Prepare Your Paintwork for Road Salt

  • Winter weather can dull your car’s paint and shine, making it susceptible to rust and oxidation. 
  • To keep your vehicle clean and protected all winter long make sure to thoroughly wax your car before the cold weather hits.
  • For best results, wash your car with a product like Turtle Wax MAX Power Car Wash and follow with Turtle Wax Carnauba Car Wax to protect the surface of your vehicle from road salt and snow. 
  • Concentrate on the lower parts of your car such as behind the wheels, quarter panels, and front grille where ice, snow, and salt hit hard and stay the longest.

They go on easily, come off easily without residue and protect well.

TURTLE WAX ICE LIQUID WAX - Bill95

Under the Hood Maintenance Checklist

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Booking a Service

  • Taking your car for a pre-winter service will prevent any surprise emergency repairs in the depth of winter when you might need your car the most. 

  • This will give you the opportunity to fix any red flags before they become urgent and prevent you from driving.
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Battery Check

  • If you haven’t changed your battery in a while, there’s a good chance it will need replacing soon. 

  • Adding the extra usage of headlights and heating more than usual can drain your battery quicker, so it’s important to be prepared.

  • It’s better to see a professional when needing a battery change rather than attempting to do it yourself. You can, however, buy a battery tester to check yourself if it’s needed.
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Monitor Fluid Levels

  • Check your antifreeze and oil levels to prevent internal damage to your car. Winter prep should also include an oil change. 

  • Make sure you’re not stranded in the cold with a car that won’t start. Use an engine and fuel additive to promote better cold-weather starting.
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Conclusion

It’s important to keep your vehicle in running order and prepare for the colder months to avoid any surprises. Always keep at least a quarter tank full of fuel in case of unexpected delays. 

Many car manufacturers and garages offer ‘Winter services’ which is useful if you’re short on time or unsure of how to carry out certain checks.

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