What Do You Do for Winter Car Prep?

You probably don't need to cover your car's radiator in cardboard when it's cold outside. But it's not a totally unheard of trick.
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A Kia Stinger owner’s homemade “engine heater” has caused quite a stir in a Facebook car group (it’s already resurfaced for a second round of comments). I thought you all might get a kick out of it, but it also got me thinking about what other winter-mode tricks are popular this time of year, as super-low temps and snow sweep across the country.

For those of you scratching your heads: An engine stays cool largely because there’s a big radiator at the front. The idea behind this Stinger’s cardboard ski mask is to help the engine retain some heat in extreme ambient cold.

This was a common practice in the days before computerized cars, and you’ll still see it with some diesel vehicles; they hate the cold even more than gasoline-burning cars do. The original post seems to come from Grande Prairie, Alberta, which recently hit preposterously uncomfortable ambient temps of around -40ºF.

There could be merit to this, though honestly even in extreme conditions like those I would be more inclined to let a late-model car use its fans and thermostat to manage its temperature, rather than a few pieces of cardboard. If your car’s relatively new and unmodified, you might want to leave the engineering to the people who designed it.

But I will be curious to hear how many of you are still blocking off your radiators in the winter in 2024.

Meanwhile, on a potentially more practical note, my colleague Jerry Perez has a handy little list of winter car prep tricks he goes through every year. I personally just like to make sure there’s at least a good pair of waterproof gloves, a high-quality collapsible shovel, and of course winter tires on anything I’m driving regularly in sub-30ºF situations. How about you?

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