10 myths about winter car care and driving
In the cold of winter, drivers’ brain cells shrink by at least 30%, causing them to come up with bullshit winter life hacks and tricks that don’t actually work. America just tossed a guy out of the White House because he suggested they inject bleach into their veins (and maybe some other reasons, too). Let’s turn a new page by tossing these bunk tips in the trash as well.
Myth 1: Clean ice from your windshield with hot water
You’d think only the type of lonely, gullible old coot who’d send his life savings to a Nigerian prince would try this, but it’s more common than it has any right to be. The idea is that you warm the water a bit and that helps remove the ice. NO. You remove ice using an ice scraper or purpose-made chemicals. You could even use vodka, but there are easier and cleaner ways to chill it before pouring it down your throat. AFTER you’ve driven, of course.
Myth 2: I don’t need to clean my car
Doesn’t matter if there’s snow or not. You should probably be cleaning your car more frequently in the winter than you do during the summer. Period. A good benchmark would be every couple of weeks (at least). We have a great way to demonstrate why: the next time you have even the smallest open wound, mix up some salt, motor oil, bitumen and sand and rub that sucker into your wound. If you don’t like it, how do you think your car feels?
Myth 3: Vinegar restores windshield wiper blades
Do your windshield wipers leave your windshield looking worse than before? Don’t even think of trying to restore the rubber with a drizzle of vinegar or some other acid. Rhino piss, the water from the bottom of your garbage bin, and the water an old woman soaked her dentures in overnight won’t work either. Just head on over to the nearest car parts store and get yourself a new pair (just maybe not while it’s raining or snowing, since your windshield wipers are done for).
Myth 4: You need a little less tire pressure
This is a very common myth. The reasoning is that you increase your tires’ traction, thereby preventing yourself from sliding out of control like one of the thieves from Home Alone (it’s Christmas, if you don’t know what I mean then turn on literally any TV in the Western hemisphere). It turns out that the opposite is true – partially deflated tires don’t help your vehicle achieve better traction on snow or ice and simply make it behave in unexpected ways. If your poor driving skills can’t set your car straight when you start sliding, deflated tires will only make it worse!
Myth 5: You need to heat your diesel engine
Perhaps you can if you really wanted to, but even so, about half a minute of idling will be enough rather than half an hour. On second thought, the better approach is simply to avoid in a fast and/or furious fashion for the first few minutes you spend on the road.
Myth 6: Following existing ruts in the road is safest
Nope. The bottom of each rut will often hide a layer of ice. If you have the option, or if your road has more than one lane, drive wherever you can that doesn’t have ruts.
Myth 7: In winter, a 4x4 makes you a wolf among sheep
We can’t blame you for believing that, but we can blame anyone who doesn’t know how to drive a 4x4. Any car can slip and slide, no matter how many wheels are driving it. It’s not the number of wheels, it’s how you use them. Even drivers with nerves of steel will often grab the brakes when they start sliding, but with a 4x4, all you need to do to stop sliding is press down lightly on the accelerator. Trust us, and YouTube it if you don’t.
Myth 8: Change into neutral when you start sliding
Absolutely not, this will only make things worse. The only two tools you have to help you when sliding are your accelerator and your steering wheel. Switching into neutral would be kind of like throwing a bailing bucket out of a sinking rowboat to make it lighter.
Myth 9: You really only need 2 winter tires
Skip this if you live in a country where winter tires are not mandatory. In countries where they are: 1. This dumb idea will earn you a ticket from the police; 2. It will be hard to control a sliding car when it’s trying to understand why it’s being pulled in different directions; 3. Your insurance agent will appreciate the opportunity to deny your claim because you had the wrong tires on.
Myth 10: It’s better not to drive at all after a snowfall
Nonsense. How else could you (with the help of YouTube) learn to do at least a 180-degree turn? Just be safe!