It’s now the time of year again where we Michiganders begin prepping for the long winter ahead. Unfortunately, getting your car ready for winter, while smart and advisable, won’t prevent you from experiencing some of the common problems drivers have in cold and stormy weather. This month we will focus on problems with your windshield. Being able to see the road you’re driving on is pretty crucial, so as a little service, we’d like to go over a few things that will make that easier to manage.
The thin, flexible rubber that your windshield wipers are designed out of does a great job removing all kinds of debris and weather from your windshield, but your wipers still need to be replaced periodically because exposure to the elements degrades them. Experts recommend changing your wipers every six months to a year. You will know when they are starting to deteriorate because they will not clear your windshield as well, leaving streaks or making squeaking noises as they work. During the winter drivers often rely on them more because the snow and salt on the roads makes it hard to see without them on. If your wipers are cracked or stiff, change them out now to make sure they’ll work in that snowstorm that catches you unaware. There’s always one.
Another thing to be mindful of is making sure you clear your windshield wipers of snow and ice before you turn on your car. If they become buried in a layer of ice and you neglected to turn them off before you shut your car off, you can bend or break the wiper arm, burn out your windshield wiper motor, or blow a fuse when you turn the key in your ignition, all of which will mean your wipers won’t work until you can purchase parts or get them repaired.
Finally, windshield washer fluid isn’t something that you use all of the time, but, like windshield wipers, when you need it, you really need it. Keep in mind that, while washer fluid will clear dirt and grime away, it won’t defrost your windshield. In very cold weather it will also freeze. The methanol content of the fluid can evaporate off due to exposure to heat or air, raising its freezing point closer to the freezing point of water. If you find that your washer fluid is frozen and will not spray, check to see if it’s all frozen or if it’s perhaps frozen only in the small washer jets located on your car’s hood. If the latter is the case, they can be defrosted with a hair dryer if you are near an electrical outlet. If it’s frozen in the reservoir under the hood, try adding newer washer fluid to the mix and see if that helps.
Now is the time to stock up on windshield wiper blades and washer fluid. Replace the old with new, and you will find driving in the snow and sleet less challenging this winter. As always, Veenstra’s Garage reminds you to to drive slowly and carefully this winter to avoid car trouble and collisions.