Winter is upon us, and while we’ve had very nice weather, there still seems to be a flurry of misinformation about car care this time of year in Minnesota. Don’t let these myths lead you astray! Here’s a breakdown of the most common misconceptions and the facts you need to stay safe and avoid costly repairs.

Myth #1: You should warm up your car before driving in the cold.

Fact: Modern engines, especially fuel-injected ones, don’t need extended idling to warm up. In fact, idling can waste gas and increase emissions. Drive gently for the first few minutes until the engine reaches operating temperature. Now, whether you want to do that in the cold is up to you!

Myth #2: Lowering tire pressure gives you better traction in snow.

Fact: Lowering tire pressure can actually make your car more prone to hydroplaning and damage the tire sidewalls. Maintain the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle, even in winter.

Myth #3: Pouring hot water on your windshield will melt the ice faster.

Fact: This is a recipe for disaster! The sudden temperature change can cause the glass to crack. Use a proper ice scraper or a commercial de-icing spray instead.

Myth #4: You don’t need to change your oil in the winter.

Fact: Cold weather thickens oil, making it less effective at lubricating your engine. Change your oil according to your car’s manufacturer’s recommendations, even if that means changing it more frequently in winter.

Myth #5: All-weather tires are just as good as winter tires in snow.

Fact: All-weather tires offer a compromise between summer and winter performance, but they’re not as good as dedicated winter tires in snow and ice. Investing in a set of winter tires can help with optimal traction and safety during the snowy months.

Myth #6: Adding antifreeze to your brake fluid will prevent brake lines from freezing.

Fact: This is dangerous and can damage your entire brake system! Never mix antifreeze with brake fluid. Use a proper winter-grade brake fluid instead.

Myth #7: Disconnecting your car battery conserves power during storage.

Fact: Disconnecting your battery can actually cause more problems, like resetting your car’s computer settings and draining the battery even faster. If you’re storing your car for an extended period, consider using a battery maintainer instead.

Bonus Tip: Keep an emergency kit in your car year-round, but especially in winter. Pack items like a flashlight, jumper cables, blankets, snacks, and a first-aid kit.

By busting these myths and following proper car care practices, you can navigate the winter months safely and confidently. Remember, a little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to keeping your car happy and healthy in the cold!