JK's Guide to Winter VW Care
While there might still be some time to squeeze the last out the summer, winter is just around the corner which can be a tough time for classic VWs – as well as modern ones. There are some steps you should take whether you’ll be tucking your Volkswagen in for the winter, or if you’re planning to keep on trucking through to next spring...
Snug as Bug
Whether you’re keeping your vehicle on the road or you’re stashing it somewhere for a few months, a good quality vehicle cover is a great investment. The cover will keep off the rain, snow and ice that might accumulate overnight, so if you’re still using your vehicle regularly you won’t have to clear your windows, and if you’re storing your vehicle away you’ll have a lot less to fear from rust and corrosion.
Tips on Tucking your VW in for the Winter
Some classic Volkswagens are a bit like the Blue Peter tortoise: they’re a bit slow, they a remind us of our childhoods, and they enjoy being tucked away somewhere cosy over the winter.
While many of the JK Team drive their VWs through the winter, a lot of us secure them away from mid-autumn, to keep them safe from the snow, ice, salt, rain and generally rubbish conditions of the winter months here in the UK.
Keep it Clean
It might seem obvious to some, but it’s really important that you give your vehicle a really thorough clean before you store it away. This will ensure that there’s no salt or other corrosive materials sticking to your vehicle that will nibble away at it over the winter.
Giving it a really good clean inside and out will also mean that you don’t have to scrub it in the spring, when there’s enough cleaning going on already.
Often overlooked, axle stands are essential for stopping your tyres from developing flat spots while the vehicle is stowed away. Leaving your campervan or Beetle on its wheels for several months without moving will mean you’ll likely have to buy new tyres in the spring, which will be a pain. It also allows you to leave the brakes off, so you won’t wear out your brake cables.
Crack a Window
Leaving your vehicle in storage over the winter can, under certain conditions, lead to moisture building up and then mould (or even mushrooms!) developing inside. We’ve seen it happen, and we wouldn’t wish it on anyone else... Another way to get around this is moisture traps, which work really well.
Make sure you roll the windows down a little before you say your final goodbye to your beloved VW until the spring.
Last but not least, we always recommend that you disconnect your battery before you close that garage door for the last time. There’s nothing worse than getting all excited to get your Beetle or Campervan back out in the spring to find that the battery has run down completely and you can’t start it – although we do have a solution for that!
Advice on Driving your VW Through the Winter
There’s a lot to be said for keeping your VW tucked up snug as a bug over the winter, but the humble Beetle is actually great in the snow, and classic campervans don’t fare too badly, either!
A lot of us keep our VWs on the road all year long, so here are a few tips from us on keeping you and your Volkswagens safe and in top shape throughout the winter months.
Check Your Bulbs!
We’ve put light bulbs first on the list because it’s so often overlooked.
JK HQ is right out in the sticks, which is great for us because we can host the JK Open Day, and make loads of noise in our on-site workshop, but during the winter it is amazingly dark out here and the roads can get scary. Having the proper bulbs is so, so important. Check that they’re all working properly, make sure you’ve got spares, and, if you can, consider upgrading them to halogen.
Winter is dark, and foggy, and rainy, and snowy, so being able to see and be seen will keep you, your loved ones and your VW safe.
Are your tyres in good shape? Do they have a proper tread pattern for dealing with snow and ice? Is the tread depth okay? Make sure they’re at the right pressure, too, as this can make a huge difference in winter.
Seriously. Fog lights. If you don't have them, maybe consider installing a pair. If you have them, check them; make sure the bulbs are working, the fuses are fine and that the switches work. They're great for those foggy winter evenings when road edges and suprise tight corners are just a little harder to see.
Yellow spotlights are a real help in winter (and they look cool all year round). Yellow light operates at a longer wavelength which is more comfortable for our retinas. It helps penetrate through mist and fog by reducing glare and adding definition, allowing you to see further in poor conditions while also being less tiring on the eye.
If you’ve got a water-cooled Volkswagen, then make sure you’ve got the correct anti-freeze in your VW. Each vehicle requires a slightly different formula, and using the wrong one can cause damage to your engine.
If you’re in doubt as to which to use, check your owners manual or give the JK Team a call.
External Thermo Mats
They might look a bit weird, but a good set of external thermo mats can save a load of time each morning!
Simply applied over the cab windows and windscreen, they’ll stop ice from forming or snow from settling, which means that you won’t have to clear the windscreen every day, which is probably the worst part of winter, right?
Last but not Least...
Pop a torch, a blanket, some gloves and a hat in the glove box or under the rear seats, just so you’ve got them if you do break down. It’s saved us more than once!
If you’ve got something cool planned for your Volkswagen this winter, whether it’s a road trip or a restoration, we’d love to see!
Get in touch with us and you could feature in a JK World blog, or on our Facebook page.