Four Tips to Keep Cars Safe in Snow

Cars covered in snow line Claremont Avenue. Mechanics say snow brings added concerns for car maintenance.

Cars covered in snow line Manhattan’s Claremont Avenue. Mechanics say snow brings added concerns for car maintenance.

Most New York drivers avoid the road at all costs when the temperature plunges and the snow starts to fall.  They figure, wisely, that driving in blizzard and icy conditions isn’t safe—in In 2012, the city government determined 1,634 car accidents were caused by slippery pavement, nearly twice as many as caused by any other environmental factor.  After the storm, however, cars often line the length of major streets trapped under thick piles of snow for days.  Not a smart decision, say auto experts, because leaving a snow-covered car in the cold for days could lead to even more headaches.


To help ensure drivers’ cars are in the best condition for tackling the icy streets and surviving the winter in good shape, drivers may want to follow these tips:


1. Clear your windshield completely before moving the car. According to Alex Fay, a mechanic at Repairs on Wheels in Brooklyn, issues arise when drivers rush to get going. “These guys race off after barely brushing off the snow and think that the defroster and windshield wipers will just melt the rest in a minute,” he said. This could be a problem:  running wipers with snow on the windshield can cause them to break. Instead, take a few extra minutes to clear the windshield.


2. Clearing all the snow saves you a traffic ticket. If you live in New Jersey, that is. For residents of the Garden State, leaving snow on a running vehicle isn’t just an inconvenience –it’s illegal. Drivers caught with snow on their cars can face up to $75 for each offense. In addition, if the snow causes an accident or injury, fines can increase to nearly $200. (Currently, no such legislation exists in New York.)


3. Don’t leave snow piled on for days. Sam Sem, of Sam’s Auto Body Shop in Dumbo, says that drivers should make it a habit to try and clear the snow off their cars daily, especially if they park near where business and residences sprinkle salt to help melt snow on sidewalks. “If the salt hangs on the paint too long, you’ll see it start to rust away some of the paint,” Sem says. The best remedy, he says, is washing the car, but if you can’t, be sure to try and brush the snow and salt off thoroughly.


4. Use appropriate snow scraping tools. Though some drivers might not have snow scrapers waiting at a moment’s notice, the right tools can save a car from accidental scratches and chipping, according to Joe Dari, of Holy Land Auto Repair in Brooklyn. “Don’t use anything metal. People don’t realize how bad they are scratching the glass at first, and when you do it’s too late,” Dari said. Other popular remedies such as plastic spatulas and credit cards might do the trick, but Dari says that proper scrapers are cheap and plentiful. He says there isn’t any excuse not to get one. “Some of these quick fixes might work, but you can find a good scraper at Auto Zone or even CVS or Duane Reade,” he says. “It’s only 10 bucks – which is a lot cheaper than getting scratches off your windshield.”