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How to Winterize Your Vehicle

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Colorado is a beautiful state to live in, and with that comes a big winter season.  Whether it’s your first winter or you are a native veteran, we’ve got a mind refresher of the top tips for everything from driving in the snow, an emergency kit list, what to check on your vehicle and how to best protect the body of your vehicle from the harsh winter elements.  Keep reading for all things winter auto care in Denver, Aurora, Greely and the surrounding areas!

Tips for Driving in the Snow

The best tip for driving in the snow is to not go out unless you have to.  If you do need to go out, there are a few things you can keep in mind.

Defensive Driving

There are a few things you can do to give yourself extra safety when driving in the snow in Denver, Colorado.  It will take longer to get to wherever it is that you are going, so leave as early as you are able to so as to not rush.  Give yourself time to clean off any snow from your vehicle (Yes, all of it! Snow that falls as you drive can be a hazard.); you may even have to shovel your vehicle out of the snow.  It is always recommended to let the engine of your vehicle warm up for a few minutes, especially if it is an older vehicle.  A newer vehicle should run just as well if you drive cautiously and go slowly as the engine warms.  As always, wear your seatbelt even if you’re going just down the street. 

One of the top things to remember once you are on the road  is to give yourself some extra space, especially if you are driving without snow tires.  The roads become slick in the snow, which means you should not suddenly break or accelerate.  For this reason, you should not use cruise control while driving in the snow.  Experts recommend leaving 8 to 10 seconds between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.  

Driving in the snow may seem daunting, but by remembering to take it slow, in every aspect of driving, you can drive safely. On occasion, you may run into a slick patch. When that happens, a winter roadside  kit can bring immediate comfort if you find yourself stuck. 

What happens if I get stuck in the snow?

Being stuck in the snow is never a good feeling.  Unless you are stuck somewhere like downtown Denver, where you can immediately get to a warm place and find help, you should not go for a walk.  Calling for help should be your top priority.  Before you spend an extended period of time in your vehicle, be sure to check the exhaust pipe.  Make sure the pipe is clear of snow and any other debris it may have picked up in the slide.  Clearing the pipe ensures the carbon monoxide will exit, rather than enter, your vehicle as intended.  Then sit tight!  Pull out your items from your roadside car emergency kit, and get yourself settled for the situation at hand.

What should I have in a Winter Roadside Kit?

Having a kit,box or bag in your vehicle for the “uh oh” moments in life can help ease an already stressful situation.  You can be more comfortable while waiting for help to arrive, or even get yourself back on the road.

Here are our must haves for a winter roadside kit:

  • Blanket(s) – having a blanket or two to wrap up in never made anyone feel worse! It is also very important to stay warm. 
  • Extra Sets of Winter Wear – hats, scarves, gloves and socks are always useful.
  • Flashlight – we recommend having an extra set of batteries available as well.
  • Ice Scraper or Brush – clean cars are much safer to drive. 
  • Battery Cables – you never know when you or someone else could use one!
  • First Aid Kit – a simple, basic kit should do the trick. You can purchase one that is already put together.
  • Portable Shovel – so you can dig yourself out of anywhere.
  • Charging Battery – include a charging cable for your phone, so you are never without battery. 
  • Roadside Safety Alerts – this could be vests and/or hazard triangle signs. 
  • Food and Water – having water in your car and some of your favorite snacks can not only curb your appetite, but we’re all happier after food.

You could even add in items to customize your kit with things like instant hand warmers, a pocket knife, a book, anything that brings you warmth and comfort.  If you frequently drive in snow or remote locations outside of Denver, Colorado, you could include tools to repair chains or equipment like rescue flair, rock salt and towing rope.

How do I Prepare my Vehicle for Winter Weather? 

As the cold weather approaches, and while the winter weather stays, there are a few things you can check on your vehicle to drive during the season with your best foot, or tire, forward. 

Here are our top five things to check on your vehicle:

  1. Check Your Tires – You can even check the tire tread with a penny!  Holding the coin with Lincoln’s head pointing down, place the coin in the tire tread.  If you can see his full head, you are measuring at about 2/32 and it is time for new tires.  However, it is recommended to have a tire tread of about 4/32 during winter.  If you live in a place that often has snowy weather, consider switching to snow tires for the season for better traction.  Also remember to check the tire pressure during cold months to keep the correct setting. 
  2. Check Your Battery – Take your vehicle to have the battery fully checked by a professional; the operating system of the battery, as well as the cables and fluids. Be sure to pick up jumper cables if you don’t already have some!
  3. Check Your Heater and Filter – After all of the pollen from the warmer seasons, winter is the perfect time to clean or replace the filter in your vehicle’s air system. Ensuring the heater is working properly ensures that the first cold morning of the season will turn into a warm one. 
  4. Check Your Oil and Antifreeze – In some cases, a vehicle will run smoother with a different viscosity of oil during the colder months. Check in your owner’s manual or with your mechanic for best results. 
  5. Check Your Windshield Wipers – If you drive frequently during snowfall, you may benefit from changing your windshield wipers to specific ones for heavy snowfall. The result? A clearer view during the snow storms, therefore safer driving.

Now that you know your car is ready for any winter weather that comes your way on the inside, let’s talk about the outside of your vehicle. 

Winterizing Your Vehicle’s Exterior

There are many things you can do to help protect the exterior of your vehicle during the winter, especially in a place like the Colorado area that experiences frequent snow storms.  Over time, road salt can erode the paint on the exterior of your vehicle.  This easily leads to the metal of your vehicle rusting.  Here are our top methods to protect, and maintain, a beautiful coat of paint on your vehicle this winter.

Regularly Hand Wash the Exterior

Regularly washing your vehicle year round will help maintain the exterior of your vehicle.  Hand washing is the best method to clean your vehicle, extending the life of the clear coat.  You should wash your vehicle more frequently when there is more snow, to clear off any road salt that has hitched a ride with you. At Capital Dent Masters, we only hand wash our vehicles.

Use Covered Parking when Available

If you are able to, park in a covered area any time it is going to snow. Not only is it great for the exterior of your vehicle, but it’s better for your back – less snow to shovel! For the times when there is no covered parking, consider using a cover for your vehicle. Even after the snow is gone, your vehicle is still protected from sun damage and other visitors that may drop by year round.

Seasonal Detailings

We recommend getting your vehicle professionally detailed at the start of each season. These regular auto detailings maintain the life of both the interior and exterior of your vehicle. At Capital Dent Masters, you can choose from multiple detailing packages. We also have different waxes, sealants, or ceramic coating for you to choose from to add protection to the exterior of your vehicle. Seasonal detailing ensures your car is always protected for the ever changing elements in Denver, Colorado.

Use Soft Brushes for Snow Removal

The thought behind this one is similar to the logic of hand washing your vehicle. Harsh bristles can scratch the clearcoat, or the paint on your vehicle. This opens up the opportunity for different issues, in particular, rust.

Protect Yourself from Rust

Rust is a very hard thing to contain once it gets started. Removing rust involves a lot of work, and depending on the level of rust once you catch it, may or may not be worth it. The paint surrounding the area must be worn off, and the rust then sanded off. Any holes in the metal then get patched. This greatly changes the value of your vehicle and it is important to prevent it as much as you can. There are products that create a layer of protection when applied to the underbelly of your vehicle.

Apply a Clear Bra

Other than regularly hand washing your vehicle, applying a clear bra to the exterior of your vehicle is the best protection to the elements. A clear bra is a plastic film that covers different areas of your car, adding a layer of protection not only from road salt during winter, but also rock chips, bugs and environmental contaminants (to name a few!).  Here at Capital Dent Masters, we use LLumar Paint Protection Film. The film is ultra durable yet 99.5% indetectable. Any paint covered by the film will not be affected negatively and will fade at the same rate as the uncovered paint on your vehicle. Reach out at any time, and let’s find the right clear bra installation for you here in Denver, Colorado.

Colorado is a beautiful state to live in, and with that comes a big winter season.  Whether it’s your first winter or you are a native veteran, we’ve got you covered on all things auto body in Denver, Colorado.  Give us a call at 303.283.9212 or reach out via email anytime at contact@cdmhailrepair.com. Ask us how we can help you glide through the elements this winter!

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