Cold weather has its perks: Gentle snowfalls, cozy fireplaces, soft sweaters. But when you have to actually get in your car and drive somewhere, winter stops being so pleasant. Not only are the roads slippery and harrowing where ice is involved — you also have to spend a lot of time clearing snow and ice from your car before even beginning your drive. By the time it’s ready to go, your fingers are freezing. Want to spend less time worrying about winter car troubles and more time singing along to the radio (with the car heater on full blast)? Check out these these four simple tips to keep your car running, and help keep you safe and secure on the road this season — no matter how snowy and icy it gets.
Tip #1: Avoid a dead battery with a full tank.
Cars typically require more fuel to start in the winter, so even a half-full tank can make it tougher for the battery to do its job, says auto mechanic Luis Johnson. To preserve your battery’s strength, just make sure your gas tank is topped off the night before a cold snap. Johnson also recommends replacing your battery every three to five years.
Tip #2: Clear an icy windshield with white vinegar.
No need to expend energy scraping ice off the front of your car, says former professional driver and creator of ELDFocus.com Arnold Chapman. His trick: Mix one part water to three parts white vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz the windshield. Vinegar lowers the freezing point of water, so the solution will melt the ice in a snap.
Tip #3: Unfreeze car doors with this spritz.
“Have WD-40 lying around? Spray it along the rubber around your car door before a cold night,” says Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®. WD-40 is a rust preventative that is often used to loosen and lubricate moving parts such as hinges, wheels, rollers, chains, and gears. “Its petroleum repels water, so it will keep the door seal moisture-free, preventing it from freezing shut overnight.”
Tip #4: Outsmart stuck wipers with rubbing alcohol.
When your wipers are stubbornly frozen tight to your windshield, unstick them instantly with a solution of one part water to three parts rubbing alcohol, advises mechanical engineer Mark Andrews, founder of MotorAsk.com. “Simply spray the wipers, and the alcohol will gently dislodge them in seconds.”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.