Between ice, snow, freezing temperatures, and fiercely cold winds, chauffeuring in the winter presents a particularly harsh environment for any vehicle. But no matter how cruel the season, all chauffeurs should know how to maintain their vehicles to prevent any interruptions to their service. Read on to learn our five top tips every chauffeur needs to know for the wintertime.
1. Stock Up on the Right Gear
Chances are that you’ll encounter plenty of ice and snow – and these present not just a hassle, but also a safety hazard. To tackle these nuisances and maintain a high level of visibility through your front and rear windshields along with all side windows, you need to keep a few tools on hand at all times.
First and foremost, make sure you have two or three good scrapers and brushes in the trunk to clean ice and snow off the car. Experts suggest two or three because you never know when one might break while you’re trying to clear away a particularly nasty patch of ice on the windshield – and “I was brushing off the car” is no excuse to be late for a client.
Professionals say that you should keep a can of aerosol de-icer around to use on frozen doors and locks; this will not only make your job easier, but will prevent an awkward struggle with a handle that just won’t budge.
Likewise, it’s also a good idea to always make sure the windshield washer fluid reservoir is full. The mixture of road salt and falling snow can quickly dirty windshields and you’ll need that to use the washer fluid regularly and liberally – both for safety reasons and to keep your vehicle clean.
A bag of kitty litter is another helpful item to keep on hand. If you car gets stuck in the snow, sprinkling some kitty litter around each tire provides traction and allows your tires to grip the surface so you’re able to drive away.
2. Wash the Car Often
Road salt and snow make more than just the windshield dirty, of course: they’ll cast a dull, dusty sheen over your entire vehicle and eventually cause your car to rust. It’s important to wash your car often to keep it looking newer, longer.
However, there’s an art to washing a car in winter. Low temperatures and water don’t mix well, and the last thing you want is a frozen car. For this reason, you should wash your car with hot water in a garage where it is shielded from the elements.
An expert tip: if your door lock mechanisms get wet during washing and freeze, spray graphite in the key slot to de-ice them.
3. Check Your Battery
Winter’s low temperatures put stress on your car’s battery, zapping it of energy. To avoid a car that won’t start, get your battery load-tested by a mechanic and make sure it has enough power to last the rest of the winter—it may need replaced.
4. Ensure Your Tires are Properly Pressurized
Did you know that tires lose one pound of pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature? Underinflated tires can’t cut through snow to grip the pavement for traction, which leaves your car in danger of sliding off the road. To provide the same safe ride as you would in summertime, check your tire pressure regularly during the winter months. Make sure tires are properly pressurized before you hit the road. Winter tires are a great investment that helps to provide greater traction on icy roads.
5. Make Sure to Properly Mix Your Antifreeze
During the winter, your car’s antifreeze should be a 50/50 mixture of water and coolant. Why? Because this mixture has a lower freezing point than pure antifreeze! Have a mechanic check your antifreeze to make sure it is properly mixed.
As a chauffeur, you’re expected to deliver the same quality, safe, high value service come rain, sleet, snow, or ice. That’s easier said than done, especially in the often-brutal East Coast winters. But if you follow these five tips, you’ll keep your car looking good and working well no matter the weather.