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Winter Car Tips: 5 Reasons to Dig Your Car Out of the Snow

Car being cleared in deep snow

Whether you park on the street or in your driveway, your car likely gets buried during winter snowstorms, making it hard to clean off. To make the situation worse, plows generally push snow around your vehicle or driveway, packing it down.
Car parked on the side of the road, buried in snow.
Even when the weather outside is frightful and the snow is piled high, it’s important to clean your car off. Here are some winter safety tips that will motivate you to shovel out your car after the next big storm:

1. Beware of Drained Juice

When cars sit for extended periods of time, the battery can drain of its charge. If your vehicle’s battery is older, it’s even more likely that it won’t have the amps left to turn the engine over. You can generally jump start your car once it’s cleared and let the engine charge the battery back up, but older batteries may need to be charged more slowly or replaced entirely.

2. Problems With Packed Snow

The longer you wait to clear snow off your car, the more compounded the snow will become. Even after you have the car uncovered, make sure the exhaust pipe and engine bay are clear of snow before starting it up. A blocked exhaust pipe can force deadly carbon monoxide inside your car, and ice in the engine could damage the moving parts or cause a belt to skip off. Finally, snow and ice that’s packed in your wheels can throw off their balance and cause a rough ride and impaired handling.

3. The Cost of Body Work

While the weight of the snow is unlikely to crush your vehicle, it can still cause damage to the body if left uncleared. Salt and other chemicals used on the roads can seep into the snow and corrode the finish and paint on your car. If there are already unpainted areas due to half-repaired damage, scrapes or dents, these chemicals will make short work of your vehicle’s bare metal and cause it to rust very quickly.

4. Gimme a Brake

You may not realize it, but there are a lot of moving parts in the braking system of your vehicle. Brakes are hydraulic-powered, so there has to be a tight seal on the brake fluid that passes through calipers and pushes on the brake pads. Snow left in the brakes can damage seals and pads, causing brake fluids to leak. Further, leaving your vehicle buried in snow can cause the surface of your brakes to rust, which will cause screeching and squealing when you drive.

5. Save Your Back

While this reason doesn’t relate to the condition of your vehicle, it’s equally important. If snow is left on your car, it will melt and the water will soak deeper into the pile. By the time it reaches your car, it can freeze as hard as cement. Not only will this make the snow and ice on top of your vehicle difficult to remove, it’s also quite heavy and can increase the likelihood of you sustaining a back or arm injury while clearing it.

Clearing snow off your vehicle, especially after larger storms, may seem like a daunting task, but it’s essential to keeping your vehicle in good condition. Snow and ice can cause physical damage to your vehicle’s components, and road-clearing chemicals can eat away at the paint.

Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on winter car tips, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Image courtesy of Flickr


Erich Reichert View All

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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