There are many ways to protect your car from snow and ice if you don’t plan to use a garage. As winter approaches, it pays to invest in a car cover or windshield cover, determine a safe outdoor parking space away from dangerous structures, winterize your fluids to prevent dangerous freezes, and get a portable jump-starter ready to combat dead batteries caused by cold conditions. With the tips in this article, you and your car will survive winter without a scratch.
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Tips on How to Protect Your Car from Snow Without a Garage
Winter can play havoc on your car, scratching paint, freezing doors shut, and covering your windshield in a thick layer of ice. Try these tactics if you want to maintain your car and prevent winter hassles.
Stand up Your Wiper Blades
It might seem like a small thing, but standing up your wiper blades when you park your car in snowy conditions can be a big help.
If your wiper blades are up and out of the way, it makes de-icing your windshield easier. It also prevents inadvertent damage to your wipers during ice-removal and keeps your wipers from freezing to your windshield. You’ll save a lot of time, effort, and damage to your car if you get in the habit of standing up your wiper blades whenever you park your car outside in winter.
Use a Windshield Cover
Few things are more frustrating than scraping an icy windshield on a frigid morning. What if we told you that you could avoid scraping your windshield altogether? If you’re storing your car outside this winter, you can purchase a windshield cover to eliminate de-icing. In the morning, clearing your windshield is as easy as rolling up the cover to reveal the ice-free windshield beneath.
For a low-cost alternative, simply put a towel on your windshield when your car is parked outdoors (just be sure to weigh it down in stormy conditions). It will work just like a commercial windshield cover and prevent ice and snow from collecting on your windshield.
Armor Up with a Car Cover or Car Shelter
Okay, so keeping snow and ice off the windshield sounds good, but what about the rest of the car? You can apply the same principle to the rest of the car by investing in a car cover. Simply cover your car when it’s parked outside and you can say goodbye to icy windows, frozen doors, and iced-over headlights.
Car shelters—temporary structures for care storage—can be set up outdoors to serve as a winter haven for your car. Think of them as your car’s personal garage. Many car shelters are engineered to withstand winter conditions and protect your vehicle in all weather.
Be Careful Where You Park
During winter conditions, it may be tempting to park your car under the eaves of a building or beneath a tree to shield your car from snow and ice. This is actually one of the worst things you can do for your car.
Parking near structures or beneath trees can expose your car to snow avalanches off roofs, falling branches, and other dangers. Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, parking your car in an open area, at least 10 feet from any structures or overhanging branches and power lines, is actually the best strategy.
Prepare for Dead Batteries
Cold weather saps car batteries of their power, leading to cold mornings where your car just won’t start. If you’re going to expose your vehicle to the worst the winter has to offer, consider investing in a portable jump-starter. The first time it saves you on a cold morning, you’ll agree it was worth every penny.
Wax Your Car Before Winter
Snow and ice can do damage to your car’s paint, devaluing your vehicle. To protect your car’s appearance through winter, wash your car and apply a powerful car wax in late fall. The best car waxes for winter can protect your car for up to three months. Just make sure to get a jump start and wax your car before the worst weather hits—washing and waxing a car isn’t easy or fun in freezing temperatures.
Check Door and Window Seals
The thaws and freezes of winter can wreak havoc on a car parked outside. Ice can infiltrate door and window seals, freezing doors shut or melting, and soaking the interior of your car while you’re driving.
To avoid ice infiltration, inspect the rubber seals around your doors and windows before winter arrives. If seals are visibly cracked or split, snow and ice will be able to infiltrate. Have any damaged seals repaired or replaced to protect your car.
Check Fluids and Winterize
Before winter hits in full force, check to make sure your car’s fluids are all full to manufacturer specifications. Larger quantities of fluid resist dangerous freezes, ensuring that your car still performs optimally after being stored outside.
It’s especially important to ensure you have a weather-resistant coolant and washer fluid. If necessary, drain and replace non-winterized fluids. Frozen coolant can cause serious damage to your engine, while frozen washer fluid can split lines and fluid reservoirs, incurring costly repairs.
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
Just like the other fluids in your car, it’s imperative to keep adequate gas in your car when storing it outside in winter. Low volumes of gas can freeze in the tank or gas lines, making your car inoperable and potentially causing damage. As much as possible, keep a full gas tank during the winter months. A good rule is to make sure never to park your car with less than half a tank of fuel while snow is on the ground.
Use Cooking Spray on Door Seals
Parking your car outside increases the chance that the doors will freeze shut during cold temperatures. This is due to moisture collecting on the door seals, freezing them together. To prevent your doors from freezing shut, spray a small quantity of cooking oil on your car door seals. Because oil repels water and has a much lower freezing point, this simple trick can keep you from ever having to deal with frozen doors again.
Parking a Car Outside in Cold Weather
While it’s advisable to store your car in a garage or carport during cold weather, that isn’t always possible. However, parking outside in cold weather doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for your car.
If you follow these guidelines, you can safely park your car outside anywhere:
- Avoid parking on slopes when possible. This can cause your car to slide downhill in icy conditions.
- Avoid parking under trees, power lines, or under the eaves of snow-covered buildings.
- Stand your wiper blades up after parking.
- Keep a portable windshield cover or towel in your car. Place this on your windshield after parking to prevent ice buildup.
- Carry a portable jump-starter or jumper cables in your car. They can be a lifesaver if your car won’t start in cold conditions, and you might be able to help another car owner as well.
Protect Car from Snow and Cold Winter Weather
Winter snow and ice can put a lot of stress on cars stored outdoors, not to mention the hassle of trying to de-ice and start a car that’s been parked out in a snowstorm. By employing simple techniques such as a windshield or car cover, you can protect your car from snow and ice. Furthermore, preventative maintenance like winterizing fluids and keeping a full gas tank can protect your car from damage. Follow these simple guidelines and keep an ice scraper and portable jump-starter ready for emergencies. If you do, you and your car will be ready for the worst winter throws at you.