Skip to main content

Winter Car Maintenance Tips

It's this time of the year again and I thought I would share a few winter maintenance tips that can be overlooked but they can keep a vehicle running better and more safely.

1- Tires

They're the only components that connect your vehicle to the road. Regardless of the capability of a vehicle's drivetrain and suspension or how strong the brakes are, they will handle only as well as the tires allow them to. Always get snow tires and not summer or all season tires if snow stays on the ground. If you only get rain but no snow where you live, all season tires are a great choice.

Check tread regularly to make sure the grooves are deep enough. Tires have wear bars which indicate  when the amount of tread left is unsafe for driving. Snow tires have two wear bars; one for dry/wet driving and one for snow driving. If the tread is at the taller wear bar (the snow wear bar), the tires are not safe for snow driving but may still be used in the rain or dry. If the tread reaches the lower wear bar, the tires should be replaced.

Rotate tires if needed and keep tires with more tread should be on the back. It is more difficult to correct for a skidding rear end than a skidding front end. Also make sure tires are inflated to the manufacturer's specifications. Not only does properly inflating tires improve handling, but it also increases the life of the tires and reduces gas consumption so make sure you check tire pressure regularly.

Bigger is not better when it comes to snow. Don't get tires that are too thin for your vehicle but don't go wider than stock size when buying winter tires. A thinner tire will be able to cut through snow easier than a wider tire, which tends to drive over the snow rather than through it.

2- Brakes

Make sure your brake pads and rotors have sufficient life left. Braking performance degrades dramatically from dry to wet to snow conditions. There's no need to reduce it even further.

If you have ABS, make sure to service the system when it needs to be serviced and keep it working properly. If you don't have ABS, learn how to modulate braking pressure because locking up is almost guaranteed under medium to hard braking with snow on the ground.

3- Engine/Drivetrain

Make sure all engine fluids are topped off and that engine and transmission oils are changed at the intervals recommended in the owner's manual and make sure the oils have the recommended specifications. Make sure to also check the oil filter and replace when necessary. If you get your oil changed at a shop, they probably change the filter at every oil change but it's still a good idea to double check with them.

If temperatures are below freezing, give the engine some time to warm up. Do not wait for too long though - less than a minute should be enough except for extreme temperatures. Modern engines do not need the same amount of warm-up time as older engines did, so there is no need to wait and idle in your driveway for several minutes. All that would do is waste gas and delay warm up because engines warm up much quicker while under load compared to idle.

One thing to note though is that engines are designed to work best at their normal operating temperatures. Engine oils do not lubricate as efficiently while they are cold and clearances between moving components and seals are very slightly altered. Take it easy with your right foot until the engine reaches normal operating temperatures.

4- Wipers 

Make sure your wipers' motors and wiper blades are in good condition and work well. If the rubber on the wiper blades is cracked, the wipers need to be replaced. If the wipers squeak or leave strokes on the windshield, check to see if there is ice on the rubber or the frame that's preventing the wiper to bend and/or stick properly to the glass. If there is, make sure to clean it. If there is no ice and the wipers seem clean but the wipers streak or leave strokes, the wipers probably need to be replaced. It is usually recommended that wiper blades are changed every 6 months.

5- Batteries 

Do not ignore an issue with the alternator, alternator belt or a battery light. Car batteries take a beating during cold weather. Turning an engine while cold is harder and demands more energy from the battery. This is because of the issue I mentioned earlier, which is that engine oil does not flow as well while it is cold so it makes the engine harder to turn. Batteries also lose performance the colder the temperature gets. Make sure you know how to boost a battery in case your battery dies and you need to jump start your vehicle but never jump start a frozen battery.

6- Headlights

Visibility.. it is very often reduced during winter months because of rain or snow. You need to see well and be well seen. The sooner you see an object that is in the way, the sooner you can take evasive action - decide to stop or slow down and steer away - and the more likely it is that you will avoid a collision. Add that to the fact that stopping distance is increased and grip is reduced, and early evasive action becomes very crucial. Make sure you keep your headlights and taillights clean and that all your bulbs are working well.

7- Body Maintenance

You may want to invest in garages, carports, or covers, especially if you have more than one vehicle and leave one parked for long periods of time. Sticky fallen leaves, water, dust, sunlight and other elements can cause discolouration and paint damage or body damage in case of a storm. If salt is used on the roads during the winter months to help with traction and/or snow melting, make sure you wash your car regularly, including the underside, to wash the salt off. If you plan on parking a vehicle for an extended period of time, wash it or get it washed all around and under before covering it or putting it in storage.

8- Handy items

Finally, here are a few items that you should keep in your vehicle and could come in handy:

 - First-aid kit
 - Battery booster cables
 - Tire pressure gauge
 - Compact air compressor
 - Tow rope/cables
 - Lock de-icer
 - Windshield/Wiper washer fluid

If you're travelling, blankets and a few energy bars are good to have with you in case you're stuck and have to wait for a while for assistance.

Drive safe and remember that most of the above apply year round but they become more critical during the colder months! Please use these tips with your best judgement and at your responsibility.


  1. Winter maintenance is among the top things we should keep track on. Being involved in a winter accident and being stuck under the snow are no-no’s. And, of course, winter repairs are pretty costly. So to save our body and pockets from harm, let’s do these maintenance checks and visit our mechanic regularly for car tune-ups.

    Michelina Douglass

  2. These are great tips, and as Michelina stated, it's important to follow them in order to ensure safety for ourselves and other drivers. I wanted to add that anyone worried about maintaining the look of their automobiles may want to invest in garages, carports, or covers for their cars. It is also important to get your car washed regularly, as salt from the roads can wear down paint and metal. Thanks for sharing such great advice!

    1. That's a great point, Joan! If you don't mind, I would like to add that to the post to make sure others can see it.

    2. Please, do. I hope it helps. Thank you. :)

  3. We had a little trouble with our wipers when we paid a visit to my parents in Boston last winter. I checked the tires, engines, oils, lights, but the wipers were the one thing I didn't bother to check before we went on a road trip on a snowy weather. I learned my lesson well and it will be a part of the list next time. :)

    Cody Strub

    1. It's great that everyone arrived safely! Wipers can definitely be often overlooked because they don't contribute to the car running safely and reliably but sometimes seeing an obstacle a few seconds earlier due to a clean windshield can be the difference between avoidance and a crash.

  4. I was actually just talking about this very topic with a friend of mine yesterday. He said it would be almost impossible to find good information about local auto repair, but I guess he was wrong! haha

  5. Take a look at your car’s oil and oil filters. Ensure that you adhere to you car manufacturer’s oil recommendations, a clean and efficient engine oil is key to beating the frosts of winter driving.

  6. great helpful tips. For winter its very difficult to kip up the car in a good working condition and normally few things are missed. Thanks for the list once again.

    1. Winter can definitely take a beating on a vehicle and it becomes difficult to keep up with maintenance. Thank you for the comment, I hope it helps!

  7. Winter really poses several problems to cars and so, maintenance is really very important. Snow, moisture, mineral salts are very damaging to car components because these bring about rust. So, thank you for these winter maintenance tips. These are of great use.

  8. Check your oil level weekly when the engine is cold, by removing the dip stick. Wipe clean and replace. Remove again and ensure that the oil level mark is between the minimum and maximum levels as indicated on the dip stick.

  9. As winter is right around the corner, I know that winter care tips are something I need to once again consider. The tips you provided are excellent. I will be going to my Chrysler Jeep service dealership office soon and will have a maintenance guy check everything out. I'm especially concerned with the brakes and wipes as I get a lot of snow in my area. I want to make sure to fix any problems before the bad weather hits.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Hey Mike,

    In regards to wiper blades, if the rubber strip is cracked or worn do you recommend getting a wiper blade insert like this
    or just replacing the entire thing completely?

    1. I personally have never come across a rubber blade insert so I have always been replacing the entire wiper but if I were to find one, I would probably give it a try.

  12. Excellent Post ! I am really appreciate of your post. Here you are explained very well about car maintenance tips a windshield. We also provide full range of Car Repairs in Watford.

  13. Winter comes with many troubles for your car. These are such phenomenal tips to know about the transition into winter driving! I'm definitely going to need to get some tires for the winter at the auto shop.

  14. Your car is said to be in good condition if all the parts of your vehicle are in good condition. So it is the duty of the car owner to check all the parts of the vehicle periodically. Make sure that tire's groove are deep enough to run on the road if not change it also check the air pressure. Brakes provide you safety ride. If you have anti braking system, make sure to service the system when it needs to be serviced. If temperatures are below freezing give some time to engine became warm up. Make sure you know how to boost a battery in case your battery dies and need to jump start your vehicle.


Post a Comment

Does An Aftermarket Grille Really Increase Airflow?
I put a Saleen S281 grille to the test to answer that question.

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's
What you need to fit a proper size square tire setup.

How Limited Slip Diffs Make You Faster on Track
What you need to know about how they put power down and pros and cons.

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?
A comparison between Schumacher's and then team mate Herbert's data.

Cayman GT4 Track Review
The first Cayman with proper (911-challenging) power.

Is an EcoBoost Mustang any good on Track?
Two days at the track in a Mustang short 4 cylinders.

2016 BMW M4 DCT Track Review
It's quick (properly quick). But is it fun?

Can a stock Golf Diesel handle a Track Day?
Not your every day track beater.

🔥 Most Visited This Week

Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2's vs Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's

I never thought I'd ever run Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2's on my 2012 Boss 302. The cost is astronomical and they are supposed to last the least of anything comparable. So how did I end up with (nearly) fresh Sport Cup 2's? A complete fluke. I came across a lightly used set with only a few hundred miles and no track time; 305/30/19 takeoffs from a GT Performance Pack Level 2 (GT PPL2). I knew my 71R's were getting very worn before the season started and likely wouldn't last the whole season, even this short one. The price was far better than a new set of RE-71R's, a little more than half, and local Time Attack rules (Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs) recently made 180 and 200 TW tires equivalent, meaning no PAX or PIP point penalty for going with 180 TW tire like the Pilot Sport Cup 2's. I have been very curious about how PSC2's compare to RE 71R's but I stayed away due to their being painfully expensive and, up to last year, their 180 TW rating would

GTR vs Evo X vs STI: which has the best AWD system?

A few weeks ago, I made a post explaining  mainstream AWD system types and how they compare , pros and cons, etc. including some simple diagrams to show where the power goes and how much. As promised, this post will focus on specific cars and what AWD systems they use, especially ones that that have more or less been defined by their AWD systems, and the best place to start may be with a bombshell; the Nissan GT-R. Nissan GT-R (R35) The GT-R has built a reputation around having monster traction and very approachable performance, thanks to its AWD system - Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain (ATTESA) - and what it can do for you. But the GT-R doesn't actually use the most mechanically sophisticated type of AWD systems discussed in the previous article, namely a "true" AWD with a centre differential. Instead, it uses a clutch pack to transfer power. RWD-based clutch-type AWD schematic - Rams Eye The Track Guy © The R32, R33, and R34 Sky

How would a Mustang 3.5L EcoBoost compare to the 5.0L V8?

Ever wonder how a 3.5 litre EcoBoost might fair against the 5.0 litre V8 in the Mustang? Of course you have. Ever since Ford dropped it in the F150 (and perhaps well before), everyone has been wondering how it would perform. There are basically two camps; those who think it would be awesome because of tuneability and power potential and those who think it means the death of the V8 in the Mustang. If you are in the latter group, we seem to be good so far with continuous upgrades to the 5.0 litre Coyote and the brand new Shelby GT500 which still uses a supercharged V8 as it has been for over a decade and multiple iterations. But what if... Well, it seems we are closer than ever to finding out the answer to that question. American Trucks recently got together two crew cab, short box, 4x4 F150's but one has the 5.0 litre V8 and the other has the 3.5 litre EcoBoost V6. There has been a few comparisons between 5.0 litre and 3.5 litre EB F150's, but this seems to be the most di

All Mainstream AWD and 4WD Systems Compared and Explained

Mitsubishi Evo X GSR at Atlantic Motorsport Park - Kevin Doubleday  © If you live in Canada or the US, you'll find that plenty of people hold sacred the terms '4x4' and '4WD' to describe a 'true 4x4', where you have a butch transfer case with a low speed, perhaps a body on frame chassis, and ideally a solid axle or two. I'm not sure how that translates to the rest of the world. My extensive research into the motoring industry in Europe (which exclusively consists of watching Top Gear and The Grand Tour...) concluded that most people across the pond simply refer to any vehicle that is capable of sending any power to all four wheels as a 4WD vehicle, further muddying the waters. Where I grew up, 4x4 was more or less synonymous with 'Jeep' so that's not much help either. However, despite all various systems attempting to do the same sort of thing - distribute power between all four wheels instead of two - not all systems are created equal,