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Top tips for car maintenance and cleaning over winter

There is a common area of neglect which can prove very expensive if you don’t pay attention to it when cleaning your car in the winter months.

Driving on UK roads through the coldest months of the year can prove extremely taxing for your vehicle. Road salt spread on the tarmac by local councils lowers the freezing point of water, preventing hazardous ice from forming and also helping to reduce the risk of accidents. But salt also rapidly accelerates the process of rust – the nasty and corrosive coat of iron oxide that forms on iron or steel – particularly when metal is wet.

So diligently cleaning the exterior of your car isn’t enough to ward off long term damage, because you should also be cleaning the underside of your car at least once a week when there’s grit lingering on roads – using either a hosepipe or a pressure washer – to get rid of that destructive coating of road salt.

Most motorists understand that they need to clean their cars more often through winter in order to combat the effects of road salt. If you keep on top of your cleaning regime throughout this time you can protect your car’s paintwork and exterior appearance from the harmful effects of road grit, however, the underside of a car is an area that people often neglect, simply because out of sight is often out of mind.

Grit can linger on roads for days or weeks once it has been spread, especially if there hasn’t been much rain. When you drive over it day after day, the build-up of the salt, combined with moisture, can really start to affect some of your car’s key components, particularly the brakes, exhaust, the low-slung parts of the engine and crucially, the car’s frame. And replacing these items is where car maintenance starts to get expensive.

To protect the longevity of a car, it’s recommended to get into the habit of always giving the underside of your car a good rinse when you wash the rest of your car. A hosepipe is great, a pressure washer is even better, provided the pressure isn’t too great that it damages components. A portable pressure washer like the Worx Hydroshot has just about the right amount of pressure to do a good job, but not risk damaging any components or forcing water into seals so it is ideal for this task. You can also use the angled nozzle WA4039 to get just the right angle to spray the underneath of the car comfortably and easily.

Through the winter months ideally, you should be washing your car every week to prevent road salt from overwhelming your vehicle, but if nothing else, at least use a portable pressure cleaner to quickly and easily just give the underside a spray down – it will save you money in the long run.

The experts also say you should never neglect cleaning the inside of your windows, either. Windows are actually one of the most neglected areas of cars when it comes to routine maintenance.

The law states that windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision. And while most people think this refers to dirt which can build up on the outside, such as mud splatters, it refers to the inside of your vehicle too.

Grime on the inside of windscreens can create a dazzling, blinding glare when other cars’ headlights shine through or the late afternoon setting sun gets through at just the wrong angle, during these winter months.

A build-up of interior dust and dirt also means that morning mist and condensation will take longer to clear. On those cold, wintery mornings where you might also find a layer of ice on your windscreen, having spotless windows is going to make a big difference to the start of your day.