How to Protect Your Car in Extreme Hot or Cold Weather
Posted by: Lydia on 19/03/2019
Sometimes there’s nothing more enjoyable than a drive on a hot summer afternoon or cool winter night. Sure, it may be uncomfortable outside, but inside your car – with the stereo set to your favourite tunes and the heat or AC cranked up – you can sit comfortably and focus on enjoying your drive.
But ultimately, driving out in the elements will always require you to deal with the elements. And in extreme hot or cold weather, you should take the appropriate steps to protect your car.
While it’s no secret that Aussie drivers will more often deal with scorching suns than snowfall, you don’t need mountains of snow and fierce blizzards to put a great strain on your car. If you rug up but still shiver while walking to your car in the morning during the cold months, odds are good your car is also feeling it and needs some extra care. Here are some steps you can take to protect your car in extreme weather conditions.
Make sure your car’s fluids are topped up
In extreme weather, your car's engine will be placed under greater strain. And given that Australia is the driest populated continent in the world, with 80% of the nation getting average rainfall of less than 600mm, ensuring that your car’s essential liquids are topped up is vital.
In a hot climate, gas, oil, and other liquids need more regular treatment, as they’re burned through more quickly. So factor in some extra time and money for more frequent top-ups if you're driving regularly in extreme weather.
Monitor the engine temperature as you drive
Provided you take proactive steps to prepare your car before driving, your drive from A to B will likely be trouble-free. But cars are complex machines, and extreme weather can add plenty of new challenges to their smooth operation.
That’s why protecting your car in extreme weather doesn't just involve preparation beforehand, but active monitoring while you drive. Central to this is the engine temperature indicator.
It looks a little different from one car to the next, but most of the time you’ll find the indicator is still and unmoving. But if you’re driving in extreme weather, be sure to keep an eye on it. If it starts to move up, it’s a sign something is going wrong with your engine or perhaps your coolant.
If this is the case, be sure to pull over and call for roadside assistance. Ignoring it could lead to engine damage and thousands of dollars in repairs.
Park indoors whenever possible
Parking your car indoors is always wise, but many Aussies still give it a pass. Sometimes the garage is a pain to drive into (and back out of) because it’s a snug fit. Other times, you just want to get to the front door as quickly as possible at day’s end. But in extreme weather temperatures, parking indoors is usually a better option than parking in full exposure to the elements.
The exception to this is if you find your garage gets significantly hotter in summer or colder in winter. This can easily happen when you have a garage made of components like sheet metal. But if you have air conditioning in your garage, it should be fine. Just put the AC on for a few minutes to help bring things down to a more ideal temperature.
In cold weather, use snow tyres
It’s important to be proactive not only in protecting your car from the weather, but in guarding against the hazards extreme weather poses to you and other drivers.
Snow tyres and snow chains can be a really good investment. Winter tyres have smaller slits and broader grooves throughout their tread pattern. This provides greater grip in snowy and icy conditions, and helps prevent accidents.
Despite this, winter tyres are ultimately still rubber, and can slip and skid if pushed in really extreme conditions. That’s why snow chains are also an important consideration if you regularly drive through a snowy climate during the colder months of the year. Not only will snow chains provide a greater grip for your vehicle on slippery roads, but they'll also help protect your tyres against damage from rocks and other debris that may be harder to spot beneath the snow.
And if in doubt? Stop driving
Sometimes the weather gets so extreme that it's unsafe to drive in. This applies equally to extreme heat and cold. So if you feel the weather is simply putting your car under too much strain – or making it dangerous for you and others to drive safely – then it’s really best to put the car in park.
Remember, extreme weather can be hard on the driver, too. If it's too warm, try to find a shady place to pull over and let the engine cool down. If it's too cold, pull over and get a warm drink while you wait out the cold a bit.
Knowing how to deal with extreme weather will ensure you can minimise the trouble it causes when it does come around. That way, you can be sure that whenever you're in the car, you can focus on enjoying your time driving, no matter what the temperature is outside.
What other things do you do to protect your car in extreme weather? Let us know in the comments below: