Winter weather can be really tough on cars – tough on the paint and bodywork as well as the engine and internal components. Even motorists who do have access to covered parking or garage space can take steps to prepare their vehicles for colder temperatures and slicker road conditions in just a few simple steps.
Below, we’ve compiled a helpful list of Audi maintenance tips to help you keep your Audi well-maintained throughout the cold, dark, and dreary winter. This list is not comprehensive, however, and there may be additional measures you can take to ensure your vehicle is as prepared as possible to handle the winter weather.
The battery is one of the most important components of any vehicle – without it, cars cannot start and without sufficient charge, cars cannot get very far. Cold weather and lower temperatures can decrease a battery’s efficiency and power output levels while simultaneously impacting its capacity to maintain a charge. Additionally, batteries are under greater strain during the winter since they are used more frequently with increased heating or defrosting, wiper use, etc.
Have a professional assess your battery for signs of corrosion or other wear and consider replacing your battery if it’s nearing the end of its life expectancy. Additionally, you may consider investing in a pair of jumper cables just in case you or another motorist could use a helping hand.
Brakes & Tires
Depending on what state you live in, there may be legal requirements about what kinds of tires you have on your vehicle while driving in winter weather. Be sure to invest in studded tires or tire chains if required for safety reasons, and if the tread on your regular road tires is wearing thin or showing increasing signs of detrition it might be time for two or four new wheels. Traction can be hard to come by when there’s snow or ice on the road, so it’s important to drive on tires that give your car the best chance at maintaining traction to reduce the chance of an accident or collision due to sliding or poor traction.
And as for brakes, it’s slightly more important during the winter to ensure that your brakes are functioning at their optimum levels. Driving on roads that are slick with sleet or ice becomes exponentially more difficult with a vehicle that can brake properly. Have an auto mechanic or your local Audi dealer inspect your brake pads, fluids, and ABS (anti-lock braking system) sensor so you can get back on the road.
Wipers, Headlights, Taillights, and Indicators
You won’t be able to get very far if you aren’t able to see the road ahead no matter what time of year it is. Taking the time to check our headlights, taillights, and turn signal indicators can help keep you and other motorists safe during winter weather conditions when visibility might be limited. A significant portion of wintertime accidents occur when road conditions are less than ideal and visibility has been compromised. Not only that, but there are significantly fewer hours of daylight during winter in the northern hemisphere, so it helps to ensure your vehicle’s lights and indicators are functioning properly.
Motorists tend to utilize their wipers and wiper fluid with greater frequency during winter months to help clear snow, ice, and road salt from the windshield. Replace your wiper blades if necessary, and ensure that you have a stash of extra wiper fluid in your trunk just in case you run dry when the need arises.
Heating and Cooling System
If possible, have your heating and cooling systems checked by a maintenance professional before winter sets in with its icy cold weather. A simple tune-up can ensure that your heating system is working at peak performance to keep you protected and insulated from frigid outside weather conditions. It’s also important to ensure that your engine cooling system has enough antifreeze and that there are no noticeable leaks.
General Safety Tips
Winter weather can also happen fairly unexpectedly, especially when traveling, so it’s important to always have a winter weather safety kit so you can be prepared in cases snowy or icy weather limits your ability to drive or seek adequate shelter. Winter weather safety items may include:
- First-aid kit
- Windshield scraper
- Heavy blanket (or two)
- Shovel (collapsible)
- Road salt (or cat litter)
- Flashlight (and batteries)
- Flare gun
This list is certainly not exhaustive and you may find that there are other items necessary for your specific needs. Other popular road emergency kits can include jumper cables, a phone charger, non-perishable snacks, matches, and more. Find out what makes sense for your situation and your climate and ensure that your car has everything you need to keep you and your passengers safe in the event of inclement or life-threatening icy conditions. Some motorists may also prefer to include a satellite phone or a battery-powered emergency radio as well, to be prepared for the most extreme circumstances.
Lastly, it’s also important to wash your vehicle frequently if you are driving regularly and collecting road salt and other dirt from snowy roads, and try to keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the winter months. Colder temperatures can cause condensation to build up inside your tank which can expedite corrosion and cause other issues like rust particles entering the fuel system. And regularly washing your car helps protect the paint from the corrosive road salt – left unwashed, the salt will continue to slowly dissolve the paint until exposing the metal underneath and potentially rust, especially on the underside of the vehicle that’s most exposed.
The unexpected can happen to even the most prepared individuals, but when the unexpected does happen, it usually helps to be as prepared as possible. When it comes to keeping your Audi clean, pristine, and running smoothly this winter, follow the steps listed above to provide your car with the best possible care.