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Winter Car Maintenance Myths Debunked

December 4, 2023

Winter car maintenance is a critical aspect of vehicle care, especially in regions where temperatures plummet and snow and ice become commonplace. There are many myths surrounding how to best care for your car in these harsh conditions. By addressing these myths and providing accurate winter car maintenance tips, this article aims to guide you through the essentials of keeping your vehicle in top condition during the cold months.

Myth 1: You Don’t Need to Change Your Oil in the Winter

One common myth is that cars don’t require an oil change during winter. This is not true. In fact, winter car maintenance often requires a switch to a thinner, less viscous oil, especially in extremely cold climates. Thinner oil flows more easily, ensuring adequate lubrication in freezing temperatures. Regular oil changes should be a part of your winter car maintenance checklist.

Myth 2: Car Covers are Unnecessary in Winter

Many people believe that snow cover on cars doesn’t harm them and thus car covers for snow and ice are unnecessary. This is a misconception. Snow and ice can hide scratches and dents and can cause rusting if left on the car’s surface for extended periods. Using car covers can protect your vehicle from such elements and is a recommended car care in winter.

Myth 3: Modern Cars Don’t Need to be Warmed Up

While modern cars are indeed more efficient in cold weather, this doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from warming up. Allowing your car to idle for a short period helps the engine oil warm up and circulate better, which is crucial for car maintenance in cold weather. However, the key is not to overdo it – a couple of minutes is usually enough.

Myth 4: Winter Tires Aren’t Necessary

Some drivers believe that all-season tires are sufficient for winter conditions. However, winter tires are specifically designed to provide better traction on snow and ice. They are a vital part of winter car safety and should be included in your winter car maintenance checklist.

Myth 5: Battery Problems are Unrelated to Cold Weather

Contrary to this belief, car batteries are heavily affected by cold weather. The chemical reactions needed to generate power slowdown in colder temperatures, reducing the battery’s efficiency. It’s essential to check your battery as part of your winter car maintenance routine.

Myth 6: Antifreeze Should be Diluted in Winter

Some drivers think that antifreeze should be diluted with water during winter. This is incorrect. In reality, antifreeze should be used in a 50-50 mix with water year-round. In winter, this mixture prevents the coolant from freezing, which is crucial for winter car care.

Myth 7: Washing Your Car in Winter is Unnecessary

Many people avoid washing their cars in winter due to the cold. However, washing is critical for removing road salt, which can cause rust and corrosion. Frequent washing and undercarriage cleaning should be part of your winter car care essentials.

Myth 8: Lower Tire Pressure is Better for Traction in Snow

A common misconception is that lowering tire pressure will increase traction in snowy conditions. This is not advisable. While slightly lower tire pressure might provide more surface area, it also increases the risk of tire damage and uneven wear. It’s crucial to maintain the manufacturer-recommended tire pressure for safety and efficiency, even in winter.

Myth 9: Windshield Cracks Don’t Worsen in Winter

Many people believe that small cracks or chips in their windshield can be left unattended during winter. However, the truth is that the cold weather can cause these imperfections to worsen rapidly. The temperature changes, especially when using defrosters, can expand and contract the glass, leading to larger cracks. It’s important to repair any windshield damage before winter as part of your winter car care essentials.

Myth 10: Block Heaters are Only for Extremely Cold Climates

Block heaters are often thought to be necessary only in extremely cold climates. While they are more common in these areas, using a block heater in moderately cold temperatures can also be beneficial. They warm up the engine and oil, reducing wear during cold starts. This is particularly helpful for car maintenance in cold weather, as it ensures smoother operation and prolongs engine life.


By debunking these winter car maintenance myths and adhering to a comprehensive maintenance routine, you can ensure that your vehicle remains safe, efficient, and well-protected throughout the winter months. Remember, preparation and regular care are key to handling the challenges of winter driving.

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