Many classic owners are starting to shut their cherished motors away at this time of year, conscious that grit and salt and other winter nasties are just around the corner. But whether you’re in your classic or not, you’re probably still driving this winter, and proper winter car care is essential.
There are a few things you can do to help take care of your car and help it get through the long cold days and nights.
Winter car care basics - check your oil
The blood in the veins of your engine, your motor oil is essential to the clean running of your car, and if it gets low, or sludgy, you could be in serious trouble.
While you’re bound to check it regularly anyway, it’s important to pay especial attention in the winter – not so much because of oil consumption, but the type of oil you need. Engine oils with a lower viscosity will flow more freely in cold weather, reducing wear and helping your engine run smoothly.
Winter-appropriate motor oils are indicated by the ‘W’ in their SAE rating – the lower the number, the lower the oil viscosity.
The warm-up myth
Turning on your engine and letting it ‘warm up’ was a common practice for years – but it can do more harm than good. Idling engines in the winter run rich as more fuel enters the combustion chamber, which in turn washes oil off all those components.
Once your engine is warm and running properly, it won’t run rich – but if you idle it for long, you may actually be damaging it in the long run. Good winter car care therefore might be not to leave your engine running too long before pulling off – just make sure your windscreen is clear first.
Tyres under pressure
Winter car care includes making sure you’re safe for the changes to driving conditions that the season brings. Wet weather creates visibility and traction hazards, so driving in winter can be more hazardous than at other times of year. If the roads are wet, tyre tread under 2mm, while still legal, is going to have significantly reduced grip.
Does your tyre pressure light come on more in the winter? Cold weather causes tyre pressure to reduce, as cold air is denser. You’re best checking your tyres monthly, not waiting for the light to come on – especially in winter, when poor conditions make good grip on the roads even more essential.
If your classic is going away for the winter, there are a number of things to check about the space where you’re storing it.
- Dampness: do you need a dehumidifier to prevent moisture build up and potential damage from mould or rust? Are there leaks or damp corners in the garage?
- Security: does your garage have an alarm? does your car have a tracker? Cars left in storage can be targeted by thieves; it’s sensible to take precautions to protect it. Don’t forget that Heritage customers can get a Skytag GPS tracker unit completely free.
- Visibility: if you have windows that allow people to see into your garage, it’s sensible to cover them so potential thieves won’t know what you’ve got in there.
For more, read our blog on 5 things that could damage your classic.