If you’ve always lived in one area, you likely have an implicit understanding of how to weatherproof your car—in the Northwest, for example, we all know that winter salt can wreak havoc on our cars if not properly sloughed off at regular intervals. But maybe you just moved, or maybe you think there might be more preventative measures you could take to avoid an expensive repair or premium-increasing insurance claim.
To that end, Quoted has weatherproofing tips for drivers across the nation—even you noncontiguous folks out where Oceanic flight 815 was lost and up on the other side of The Wall. So find your section, follow along, and save some green.
In the land of Robert Frost and football players with long sleeves under their jerseys, when we talk weatherproofing your car, we really mean winter-proofing it.
First, the easy bit: One-time weatherproofing that can save you a bundle in the long run. Start with the engine—sometime before Turkey Day, you’ll want to replenish all the fluids, most importantly the anti-freeze (so your radiator doesn’t crack). Fill up the windshield-washer fluid while you’re at it. If your sweet ride doesn’t roll with all-season tires, remember to have your snow tires put on before the first big storm. And, if you don’t change your tires, remember to regularly check the tread (which helps the car grip the road), preferably in early autumn, before all the fallen leaves make conditions slippery. Check your manual to see what tread depth is ideal, and replace your tires if they fall short.
There are some general maintenance things you can do to keep your car running smoothly and looking its best. An important preventative measure you’ll want to make a part of your winter car-care schedule: regular washing and waxing, to prevent rust damage from salt on the roads. An insider-tip for saving some time in the early, icy mornings: keep a spray bottle of half vinegar (white is cheapest, but any will do) and half water in your car. When you park in the evening, take a few moments to spray the windshield (and the back window, too, if you want to be really thorough). This will prevent ice from accumulating over night, and bonus? Your still-toasty hands will thank you in the morning.
South and Southwest:
Though the South and Southwest escape the perils of several frozen months, heat can cause damage that requires expensive repairs. So, if you live below the Mason Dixon, when you think weatherproofing, think protection against heat. We have a few preventative tips that’ll hopefully save you some cash and keep your car working well.
You’ll want to maintain your tires just like your neighbors up north, but for different reasons. Road temperatures can be fifteen degrees higher than air temperatures, and that extra heat can do a number on your tires, causing the rubber to break down faster, which can cause a blowout—a dangerous situation. Each time you have your oil changed, have your tires checked, too: you’ll want to make sure the mechanic looks for signs of damage, as well as tread depth and tire pressure.
High temperatures (over 95 degrees F) can cause your car’s battery to fail more quickly than batteries motoring cars in more temperate zones. The breakdown happens for a couple of reasons: high heat causes the battery’s fluids to evaporate, and it causes the battery to corrode more quickly. Have your mechanic check your battery regularly (an oil change is a good time) to ensure the battery can hold a charge and that all the terminals are clean and free of corrosion.
That warm sunshine may brighten up your day, but prolonged exposure to your car will fade the paint job, as well as your car’s upholstery and dash. If you don’t park in a garage, consider using a cover not only to block out the sun’s rays, but to keep it free of tree and bird droppings, as well as rain (which can contain contaminants). Applying wax (on, wax off) once a year will also help keep your whites white and your colors vibrant.
With temperatures that can differ 100 degrees or more from winter to summer—the largest spread in the lower 48—residents have the (dubious) honor of both high heat and deep freezes, so put on your weatherproofing hats and gear up to protect your car year-round.
The above advice for the North and the South applies to the Midwest too, so take heed. But we also have some weatherproofing suggestion just for you. They don’t call your region Tornado Alley for nothing—Iowa, for example, averages 48 tornadoes a year. Car owners may think there’s nothing they can do to protect their wheels from tornado damage, and while we admit the rogue cow may still fall through your windshield, taking time to carefully secure all buildings on your property, and ensuring no large items are left free in the yard, can lower the chances of your car becoming damaged.
Noncontiguous (that’s Alaska and Hawai’i for you non-map experts):
To those in Alaska, we say, follow the guidelines for the Northeast times two (we aren’t even sure that makes sense but man, you and your car must be cold!). In all seriousness though, continuous subzero temperatures can cause stress on your car’s engine, so take extra care when monitoring your battery and fluids, and regularly have the engine’s belts and hoses inspected for cracks. Those of you living in Hawai’i—the other extreme on the mercury scale—will want to follow our warm-weather car care tips. Keep in mind that exposure to salt air from the sea can cause rust damage (and jealousy from your cold-weather dwelling friends), so keep up with washing and waxing, and consider a cover if your car sleeps under the stars.
Last of the frontier, last of the weatherproofing tips, but certainly not least: we have some tips just for you Westerners. While many of the tips we’ve already set forth will be useful for you as well, we’d like to focus on a weather condition that often hits the American West the hardest: rain. Those of you in the Pacific Northwest don’t need to be reminded how much it rains, but if you’re in California, suffering through the worst drought on record, you might be thinking, what rain? But though those wet droplets from the sky may be an infrequent visitor, as the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. Storm systems headed your way over the ocean are often a unique combination of wind and moist air from the Pacific—called “Pineapple Express” storm systems (and no, we’re not talking about James Franco and Seth Rogen’s earlier work). Meteorologists often call Pineapple Express storm systems “atmospheric rivers of rain,” and rightly so: one earlier this month dropped several inches of rain across the entirety of the West Coast.
This is all to say: consider preparing your car for torrential rains before they hit. Replace your car’s wiper blades at the first sign they aren’t working at their optimal level—you might consider keeping a replacement in your trunk, just in case. Be sure your tires’ tread and pressure both meet regulation so you don’t slip around on wet roads, make sure your defroster is working well, and have your brakes checked regularly.
In sum, there’s truth to the old adage “a stitch in time saves nine,” and we hope you’ll consider implementing some of the preventative measures we’ve suggested—because nothing dampens the enjoyment of seasonal activities like preventable car damage or having to make a car insurance claim.