True or False? 5 Winter Car Care Myths Debunked

The winter season is upon us – cold weather, snow and ice, and darker commutes to and from work. As you prepare to travel for the holidays, you want to be sure your vehicle is safe and winter-ready. But what winter car care is really necessary and what is just a myth?

We take a look at 5 common winter car care myths so you know how to really prioritize your winter care maintenance this season. Say goodbye to fake stories and say hello to a better, safer vehicle. 

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Myth #1: Warm Up Your Engine Before Driving in Cold Weather

True or False? False!

You do NOT need to warm up your engine before driving in cold weather. In fact, an idling engine sitting for longer than 5 – 10 minutes is actually harder on your engine. Modern vehicles are designed to start up and go with only a few minutes of prep – so three minutes is really all you need before you back out of the driveway.

While your heater may not be blasting warm air when you climb into the car first thing in the AM, your engine is still ready to go after just a few minutes. You have more than enough time to start up, get organized, defrost the windshield, and pull on your driving gloves. 

Plus, your engine will heat up faster as you start driving, giving you faster heat than if you were just sitting parked next to the house. So, no worries about sitting in the cold or leaving your car running alone outside – just start it up, get organized, and you’re ready to go after that first sip of coffee. 

Myth #2: Hot Water Can Quickly Remove Ice from Your Windshield

True or False? False!

No one likes to stand out in the cold removing snow or ice from your windshield. Sometimes, it can feel like the defrost takes forever to kick on and you’re just sitting in the cold, waiting for the coffee to kick in while you watch the windshield clear.

However, the answer is not to pour hot water on your windshield in an attempt to hurry along the process. The truth is, pouring hot water on your windshield can cause such a dramatic change in temperature that your windshield will actually crack. Hot water exposure on a cold car can also damage protective paint or car wax.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to ice on the windshield. Have an ice scrapper on hand and the proper defroster turned on. It’s a little slower, but well worth the protection of your car. 

Myth #3: Lowering Tire Pressure Increases Traction

True or False? False!

This is a potentially dangerous cold-weather car maintenance tip that many drivers follow and can put you at more risk when on the road.

The myth started behind the idea that less tire pressure would equal more of your tire covering the surface area of the road. However, that is not how tire pressure, or tire safety, works when on the road.

Even in winter months, during icy and snowy conditions, your tires must always be at the recommended PSI. When your tires drop below a certain tire pressure, you are more likely to have a tire blowout. Recommended tire pressure is recommended for your vehicle’s safety in all weather, not just sunny weather.

If you’re concerned about your tires in the winter, get a tire inspection or opt for winter tires instead. Tire inspections before winter can help ensure you have safe tread, even wear, and the proper balance for the weather ahead. And if you don’t, winter tires can help protect you in the worst terrain of your local area. 

Myth #4: All Wheel Drive/Four Wheel Drive Allows You to Drive Normally in Icy or Snowy Conditions

True or false? False!

AWD and 4WD is a great safety feature for many vehicles and can offer a lot of support in bad weather conditions. However, AWD/4WD does not prepare you or your vehicle for all driving conditions and doesn’t always offer support in conditions like black ice or freezing rain.

AWD/4WD is intended for better traction, which can be beneficial with unexpected snow on the road or heavy sleet. However, you should not rely on AWD/4WD to carry you through bad weather. AWD/4WD will not grip ice or rain-heavy roads, and can still be slick and dangerous.

To be safe on the road, always be cautious and slow. Plowed roads, salted roads, and AWD/4WD does not help navigating winter road conditions at normal speeds. Always be prepared to be slow, cautious, and keep a safe distance.


Myth #5: Don’t Bother Washing Your Car in Winter

True or False? False!

Everyone loves a freshly washed car in Spring and Summer. You rinse away the grime of winter and like to see your car sparkle in the bright sun, ready for your next road trip.

Car washes aren’t just for the warmer months, though. More than anything, your car needs washed regularly in winter due to the extra exposure to salted roads and grime that sprays up from melted snow.

Dirt and salt from the roads and weather conditions can lead to corrosion under your car and out of sight. Regularly running your car through a car wash can help immensely with protecting the longevity of your car’s paint, parts, and functioning safety.

So, don’t wait until the bad weather stops to take your car through the local car wash. Plan a stop at least once a month to stay on top of protection so you’re good to go when spring arrives.


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Get Your Car Winter Ready at Lisbon Auto

Winter car maintenance can seem overwhelming. You need to have your tires inspected, swap out for winter tires in snow heavy areas, have de-icing tools on hand, and have to brave the cold to keep your car running and safe.

At Lisbon Auto Shop, we make protecting your car from winter weather easy and simple. Come in today for an inspection or general maintenance appointment. We’ll help with your tires, fluids, and electrical checks. Be prepared today and stay safe on the roads for the holidays. We’re here to help.