How to winterize your vehicle parked outside all winter
Discover 12 easy ways to winterize a vehicle that sits outside year-round, protecting it from elements once the freezing winter temperatures plummet!
My dream garage would be a triple car garage with one bay exclusive for parking my truck.
But as it stands, my truck sits outside 24/7 thanks to a single car garage stuffed to the rafters with a workshop, tools and garden supplies parked inside. Not a whole lotta room to spare!
So come colder temperatures during harsh winter conditions, once again, my vehicle gets covered in snow and ice, resulting in a snowglobe with a truck peeking out.
Great visual, huh?
However as luck would have it, my brother entered a conversation one time. Thank goodness for my winterizing car complaining, because he had a LOT of answers to solve my winter parking problems!
As per usual, I took down a thousand valuable notes on my phone on how to winterize your vehicle, then resolved to fix each issue over time.
Today? My truck now has a winter ritual before nightfall. It’s like I tuck it under the covers before calling it a night.
But these winterize your vehicle steps have really helped to keep my truck from frozen doors, a chilly interior, cleaning it off with ease, and from me being stranded, and so much more.
So today, I’m finally sharing 12 tips on how to winterize your vehicle with a few of those very wise tips, so you can copy a few of these yourself!
Here’s what I now do:
Visit my Amazon Store / Winterize your vehicle for my own selections from this post!
This post contains some Amazon affiliate links in which I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases through these links, at no extra cost to you. Thank-you for helping to support my blog! And check your vehicle owner’s manual for additional reference.
12 Ways to Winterize Your Vehicle
(parked outside all winter)
1. Pull up under an overhang
As luck would have it, I have a small roofline that overhangs the front porch of my house. So to take advantage of the additional roof protection, I park as close to the garage door as possible.
This allows for a couple of things. The plugs (I’m about to show) you stay drier, as well as the protection from the roof and house create more of a weather break from ice and wind.
Every little bit helps!
2. Plug in a block heater
You may or may not have a block heater in your vehicle. Double check, because I forget about mine a LOT! But if you don’t, it’s worth looking into if you live in a region that dips below freezing often.
A block heater warms up your engine oil and coolant, which warms up your engine block, making it easier to start your vehicle.
I notice a big difference when my block heater is plugged in. I allow my engine to idle while I remove the windshield cover and unplug a few things, then the truck is ready to go.
What a block heater does
- warms up the engine coolant, which warms up the engine block
- less time required to warm up your vehicle during the winter months
How to plug in a block heater
- Pop your hood latch, and search for a cord with a plug along the front of your vehicle grill.
- Remove the cap, then plug it into an outdoor extension cord.
My outdoor extension cord happens to run from the truck engine to the inside of my garage where I plug it in, so the electrical joins are well protected from the elements.
3. Use a small car heater
One winter when I complained to my brother about the outside of my truck freezing me out yet again, he asked if I had a ‘Little Buddy’ vehicle heater. No… What’s that?!
Well! Did you know you can purchase compact car heaters made for vehicles? Little Buddy is a brand name, however you can get others as well.
This car heater came somewhat unassembled. I needed to wire the heater it to the plug, but the instructions were really good and it was easy to do.
But I was a little nervous about running a heater on the rubber car mats, so I attached it to a metal bucket. Maybe it doesn’t matter but I feel better about a heater sitting on something non flammable than not.
I couldn’t find the same kind of car heater on Amazon as the one I have. Mine has a regular wall plug. So I would recommend checking an auto supply place if that’s the kind you would like.
What the car heater does
- Heats up the interior of your vehicle so it’s warm and comfy when you get inside.
- Helps defrost ice on your windshield and doors.
This little car heater was a total game changer. It heats up the interior of your vehicle before you even start it! Running it will help deice the windshield, doors, and will have your interior feeling toasty warm. Without your vehicle running.
Check out more car heaters from my Amazon / Winterize your Vehicle section HERE
Here’s how I use it.
How I use the car heater
1. Place the vehicle heater on the passenger side on the floor, further back so the heat doesn’t directly hit anything such as seats or console.
2. Use electrical tape to cover any wire joins to protect it from water.
My heater had a little plug to join the wire with the plug end to the wire to the heater. Why I am not sure. But oh well.
3. Run the cord through the bottom of the closed vehicle door (I close on it very gently), under the wheel well, placed on top of the tire.
4. Extend the cord into your garage but leave it unplugged until needed.
5. Approx 30 minutes before you head out anywhere, set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes, then plug in your heater.
The timer will remind you the heater is running! And your vehicle will be warm and toasty inside!
All I know is, ever since I used this little car heater, I’ve never had an issue getting inside my vehicle. If the doors are frozen shut, running the heater inside helps unthaw the doors.
Above: the cover before the ice storm
4. Use a windshield cover
My least favorite winter chore is attempting to scrape ice off the windshield and side mirrors!
So when I was browsing through Costco one day, I came across this Frost Blocker windshield cover for ice and snow with side mirror covers as well. Why not?! So I took a chance and picked it up.
Everytime it threatens to snow or there’s talk of an ice storm, on the cover goes. It covers everything so ice removal becomes as easy as removing the covers!
Yup. So worth it! But I do leave it at home as to not risk it getting stolen.
What a windshield cover does:
- protects the windshield, so it stays free of ice and snow
- keeps the windshield wiper blades clear of ice
- comes with side view mirror covers offering the same protection
Above: the cover before the ice storm.
The cover after an ice storm
Lift off the cover, and your windshield is free of ice!
How to install the cover
- place the windshield cover across your entire windshield
- secure it by strapping it around the rear view mirrors with the stretchy straps
- place mirrors inside their own small covers and pull the string to tighten
- I place my windshield wipers under the cover, however some lift them off the windshield exposed to the elements
What to do with no windshield cover
Don’t have a cover? You could achieve similar protection using black plastic garbage bags taped to your vehicle with painter’s tape. But you do run the risk of the tape lifting from the cold.
You could also place extra large sandwich bags around each rear view mirror, secured with the zip lock feature.
Check out more windshield covers from my Amazon / Winterize your Vehicle section HERE
5. Spray door seals with silicone
Since my truck stays outside all winter, the door seals commonly freeze, making it hard to open the doors at times. Especially on older vehicles like mine!
So my brother came to the rescue once again, and suggested I get a non-freeze silicone spray for the door jams so they won’t freeze together. What?! Yup! It’s a thing.
I use Jig-A-Loo, which is a silicone-based lubricant and water-repellent spray. It can be used on glass, metal, rubber, leather, most fabrics and plastic.
Before a deep freeze, I spray it on all my door jams, latches and rubber seals.
And it works! If I spray it on every so often, my doors will not freeze shut.
How to apply silicone lubricant
Spray a cloth, then wipe down the surfaces you wish to lubricate including anywhere the door connects to.
Or do as I do and just spray it on. You’ll get some overspray so a cloth could help get a more precise application.
Test your doors out every few days. I find I need to add more spray if the days are wet.
Check out more silicone sprays from my Amazon / Winterize your Vehicle section HERE
6. How to open a frozen solid shut door
Ice storms transpire at least once a year in my region, so it’s a given that at some point, I will be frozen out of my vehicle just when I need it. I wait it out if I can though.
I pour some luke warm water over the door jams to melt the ice, careful not to hit the windshield if possible, just in case it breaks.
7. How to thaw ice off a vehicle quicker
If you happen to have a driveway buried in shade nearly all winter long, you’ve likely noticed the ice takes a lot longer to melt away. Luckily, there’s a relatively simple fix… after you can get inside on one side.
Park your vehicle in the sun so it can thaw. I rotate the vehicle sides facing the sun until all the ice has dropped off.
But if push comes to shove, I’ll also pour cool water over door jams or glass to help melt the ice quicker if speed is a must.
Running a heat gun gently over door locks can also help. But be sure to get some silicone spray inside that lock as soon as it thaws so it won’t happen again.
8. Bring a winter emergency kit
- keep the gas tank full, never allowing it to go under half way
- vehicle blanket
- phone charger
- winter gear such as boots, mits, toque, gloves
- kitty litter or sand (good for snow grip and weight)
- collapsible snow shovel
- flares or a couple of safety cones
- jumper cables
- ice scraper
- HELP sign
- road salt
I honestly, without fail, pack a small shopping bag and leave it by my front door filled with most of these items so I can simply grab it and go. I’m never without!
Check out more from my Amazon / Winterize your Vehicle section HERE
4 mini winterize your vehicle tips:
9. Ensure your vehicle has been properly serviced for cold weather with the appropriate motor oil mixture, windshield washer fluid that contains antifreeze, and radiator fluid that won’t freeze.
10. Clean off all snow (and ice!) using a long handled wash brush. Otherwise you can blind drivers with blowing snow or potentially take out their windshields behind you.
11. Considering letting out a little air pressure out of your tires so they grip more efficiently. Check the proper amount with your auto body shop or vehicle manual.
12. Ensure your tire treads are in top shape for appropriate mud and snow traction, although winter tires are the ultimate.
There you have it! Here’s hoping a few of these tips will guide you on how to winterize your vehicle whether it’s inside your garage or not, to keep it happy and healthy all winter long!
And may we all be able to not have to be a part of this club one day… can I get an amen to that?
PS: I think I’m ready for summer.
Have any tips of your own?
Visit this informative guide from Consumer Reports on how to Winterize a Car HERE
Other winter posts you may enjoy:
How to winterize a travel trailer by blowing out the lines
Take an ice storm winter shed tour HERE
Take a tour of my beautiful bike trails during winter!
Another winter trail ride on bike HERE
Check out unique winter decorating ideas to make HERE
6 thoughts on “12 ways to winterize your vehicle parked outside all winter”
I had to pick my jaw off of the floor so many times reading this. Lordy, I can’t even begin to imagine living in a world where there are so many icicle thingies dripping off of my car. I would turn around and go straight back inside. Goodness me. If I ever go visit the kids, I think I’ll do it in Summer 😀 but I will share your post with them just in case as newbie Canadians they don’t know these things.
Haha! We get ice storms at least once a year, sometimes twice. Luckily they are short lived! It’s very dangerous when it happens. You can’t even walk to the vehicle safely. Those are indeed stay home days!
Awesome list & instructions. This past Christmas we bought one of these “jump starter power banks” for our son to keep in his car in case his battery dies or one of his co-workers’s vehicles. They’re a little bit pricey, but we’ve tried to jump a friend’s car that had died during the summer and couldn’t get it jumped with just plain jumper cables. Something about the new car batteries, but one of these power banks had it stated in just a couple minutes. They’re kind of pricey, but worth it. Here’s a link:
(We purchased ours in an auto supply store, but I could only find it online at Kohl’s department store to show you.)
Ohhh yeah, I want one of those big time! I’ll watch for them locally!
I think your comment is glitching up because of the long link so I’ll see if I can modify it slightly differently…
Good post. I maintain(-ish) 3 vehicles because 2 of my kids drive my cars. ALl of them sit outside. Usually my car gets in the garage in winter, but not this year – contents of 2 dorms/misc furniture have filled 1.5 spots of a 2 car garage. Your ice storm photo is incredible! Do you ever forget to unplug things before you start driving? I could see my kids and / or me doing that. This is the first year I have not had to have the driveway plowed yet, so global warming is freaking me out. This is not normal. Worried in Wisconsin…
Thanks Jeanne! And yes, I forgot once… but luckily as I was backing up I remembered before I got too far! It was the first time of the season and I ensured I had a LOT of slack in the extension cord in case I made that error. LOL
Global warming certainly became a thing here this past year as well. We had all the extremes to heat, fire, flood and snow. What. A. Year.