Austin, Texas isn’t exactly known for frigid winter weather, but it is known for being weird. So rather than just give you some hints on surviving this mildly cold season (where’s the fun in that?) we’re going to get a little more creative with our delivery. Here are four weird winter car tips that might have you scratching your head if you hear them out of context.
1. Knock on Your Hood Before Starting Your Car
We’re not going to weigh in on the “to warm up or not to warm up” debate (that’s a blog post in itself), but we will tell you to bang on the hood of your car before starting it up in the morning.
Why? The engine is likely still a bit warm even if your car has been sitting idle overnight. This makes it super inviting for all kinds of critters looking for a cozy spot to sleep. Cats especially enjoy the security and warmth that your vehicle offers. You’ll also want to check underneath your car since they tend to like snuggling with tires too.
If you’re having this problem a lot, consider providing a nicer place for the neighborhood stray to sleep. You can DIY a shelter with a storage bin and some straw.
2. Spray Wiring With Peppermint Oil
It’s not just cats who want to live under your hood. The warmth and security are super attractive to mice, rats, and other rodents. And while cats likely just want to snooze, if you bang on your hood and rats come pouring it? That’s likely the tip of the iceberg.
First, rodents love to chew. They’ll chew through hoses, they’ll chew through wires, and, because they’re small, this damage can be nearly impossible for a technician to find. If they’re really happy in your car, they may bring in nesting materials which can pose a fire hazard.
In the case of rodents, you want to keep them from getting in your vehicle in the first place. If you park in a garage, your best bet is to close up any holes they use to gain access. Check around holes for vent hoses or utility lines, doors, and windows.
Fortunately, most rodents find the smell of peppermint repulsive. Put some peppermint oil extract and water in a spray bottle and spritz down your wiring. We’ve also heard of people having success with Irish Spring Soap or Febreze.
3. Don’t Dump Hot Water on Your Car
If you’ve never had the pleasure of encountering an ice-covered windshield first thing in the morning, you’re in for a treat. There is some strange law of nature that guarantees this situation only occurs when you’re running late.
We don’t blame you if pouring a cup of hot water onto your windshield seems like a solid plan, but it’s not. While the sudden temperature change will probably melt the ice, it’ll also shatter the glass. Great. Now you’re late, and you don’t have a windshield.
The fastest way to safely melt the ice is to turn your defroster and heat on full blast, and wait. Once the ice starts to loosen up, you can go at it with an ice scraper or brush. Hold off turning on your windshield wipers until you’ve cleared some ice; they can easily snap under the weight.
4. Do Some Small Scale Doomsday Prep
Hopefully, you’ll never be stranded in your car, but winter weather can be unpredictable. You won’t need apocalypse bunker levels of supplies, but there are a few things you should keep in your car in case you do find yourself stuck:
- Emergency food: A few protein bars or some granola.
- Extra water: Don’t leave this in the car if temperatures drop below freezing.
- Hand and foot warmers: These are small, inexpensive, and well worth having if your heat stops working.
- Space blanket: If you need to spend the night in your car, you’ll be glad you have one.
- Flashlight and batteries: In case you find yourself walking.
You don’t need to go too crazy, but a few supplies can make life easier if you find yourself broken down in the Hill Country. Also, store this kit inside your vehicle, not in the trunk. That way, you’ll have easy access, whatever the situation.
Is this post coming too late? Do you already have an engine compartment full of rats and kittens? Make an appointment with Juke Auto, and we’ll get your vehicle critter-free and back on the road in no time.