Owning a brand new car is a great feeling, especially if you haven't had that pleasure before. Somewhat like a new baby (but not really), you'll want to nurture and protect it to make sure it stays as new looking as possible - for as long as possible. That's especially important in winter, a season that's notoriously hard on cars. Some of the standard winterization tips don't apply to new cars — your battery should be fine, for example — but new cars do require some care to keep them looking and running their best.

Do the fluids
The winter's chill can cause changes in your car's fluids. Oil becomes thicker and more viscous in the cold, and won't lubricate your engine properly until it warms up. Check your owner's manual before the cold weather arrives, and have the recommended winter-weight oil put in at your next oil change. You'll rely heavily on your washer fluid through the winter months to clear slush and splatters from your windshield, so top off the reservoir with cold-weather washing fluid. Check your coolant, and top it off too, if needed. If you live in a cold climate, adding a fuel-line antifreeze product to your tank is prudent as well.

Wash regularly
Flying chunks of ice and slush, the sand and gravel used for traction, and especially the salt used to melt ice can all have an impact — metaphorically and literally — on your finish. One of the best preventive measures you can take, especially in road-salt areas, is to wash your car frequently during the winter months. The high-pressure wands available at many car washes are especially good for removing crusted-on salt and grit from your car's nooks and crannies, and it's also the best way to remove caked-on ice without risking your finish.

Protect your finish
That new car sheen should last a few years, but you'll help your cause if you wax it regularly. Aside from vanity, a fresh coat of polish can help keep ice and slush from sticking to your car. Don't overlook your lights, as ice buildup there can really cut into your nighttime vision. Protect the finish of your interior, as well. Take out the factory floor mats and replace them with winter mats, built to trap water and mud and keep them away from your carpeting. Treating your upholstery with stain-prevention spray and wiping the trim with a protectant can help them stay pristine, as well.

Cover up to minimize weather's impact
Parking inside your garage is a no-brainer if you have one. Otherwise, do what you can to shelter your new car. You can put up a freestanding shelter in your driveway to keep off the weather, or — depending on the prevailing winds — your home might shelter part of the driveway from the worst of it. If those aren't options, consider buying a car cover to keep snow and ice from building up overnight. As a bonus, covers keep your windows clear and prevent your wipers from getting stuck to the windshield by ice. If you don't have a cover, you can improvise in a pinch with a tarp and a few bungee cords.

Pay attention to your tires
If you live in an area where freezing temperatures are the norm, you should drive on winter tires rather than all-season tires, even if you see only a little snow. Winter tires aren't just for freezing precipitation; they're formulated with soft rubber that retains its traction even in cold weather, while all-season tires quickly become hard and lose their grip. You'll get better traction and better braking, which can keep you out of the hospital and your new car out of the repair shop. Check your tires' air pressure regularly, as well. They lose pressure in cold conditions, which hurts both your traction and your mileage.


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