How to Work on Your Car in the Cold

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Winter is upon us, but the work of a mechanic — whether hobbyist or professional — is never done. Cold weather won’t keep us from working on our cars, though, right? Of course, no one likes to be outside in the cold — your fingers go numb, your nose gets cold and it becomes downright impossible to maneuver little things like screws or bolts.

Still, the show must go on, so we’ve gathered a few well-tried tips and tricks to help make your winter projects a little more productive and a little less frigid.

Car covered in snowDress For Cold Weather

This should be a given if you live in a cold climate, but it bears repeating: dress for the occasion. Wear multiple light layers of clothing so you can remove some if you start to get too warm and make sure you protect your face, head, nose and ears.

For cold fingers, invest in a good pair of winter mechanics gloves. You don’t want something big and bulky that makes it impossible to work. Instead, look for high-quality gloves that offer insulation as well as dexterity. You might even opt for gloves with a Velcro wrist seal if you need a little bit of extra protection.

Warm Yourself Up Frequently

If you’re outdoors, no matter how in-depth your project is, make sure you schedule frequent breaks to warm up indoors. Staying outdoors for long periods of time, even if you’re properly dressed, puts you at increased risk for hypothermia and even frostbite depending on the weather conditions.

Take plenty of breaks during your project. Use it as an excuse to hydrate as well — you can get dehydrated even in cold weather, which makes it easier to become hypothermic. Be aware of the symptoms of both hypothermia and frostbite and make sure you seek shelter indoors at the first sign of either.

Your car might need work, but it isn’t worth your health or your extremities to get it done in the cold.

Use Your Garage If Possible

jump starting car in winter

If you have a garage, you’ve already got the best place to work during the winter months. Even an unheated garage helps protect both you and your car from the harsh effects of cold winter weather, but if you want to work on your car during even the coldest winter months, your best bet is to look into heating the space.

First, look into insulating your garage. There’s no point heating the space if all the warm air is going to just bleed off. Next, choose your heater type. Forced air heaters warm the air and are a good choice if you’re keeping the door closed. Infrared heaters create more ambient heat but taking longer to warm your garage up. Finally, make sure your garage is properly ventilated before installing a heater. Even electric heaters require some ventilation and LP (liquid propane) varieties require quite a bit more.

Don’t let the cold winter months discourage you from working on your car — just make sure you dress warmly and, whenever possible, stay indoors. You should be just fine.

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