Surviving winter with your Lotus

Summer is becoming a distant memory, but fear not, you can still drive your Lotus in the winter.
Here are our top tips to take care of you and your car when doing so…

The main enemy to your car is salt.  While helpful for our safety, grit salt on the road can be devastating to the condition of your suspension and chassis.  However there are a few things you can do to reduce the impact:

Spray water at it! Pressure wash after each trip out to rinse the salt off, giving the car a little time to cool off first – keep the lance a short distance from the car, no need to be too aggressive. Clean around the wishbones, brakes, dampers, exposed chassis areas and underbody.  It should be possible to access most areas through the wheels, arches, and under the car. Don’t forget the wheels and radiator. After this, try to clean the water from the brakes with a very short drive before storing the car, to prevent the brakes sticking on when parked.

If you have a fuel station with a jet wash near to home, the hot foam soft brush is a good way of removing the salt film from the car. It is important to always make sure you rinse any grit and dirt from the brush with the spray lance before using it, to prevent scratching bodywork.

Clean the inside of the alloy wheels – this is often the first place the paint will lift. Get a soft wheel brush that accesses the inner rim through the spokes, and all of the tight areas around the brakes etc.  Always take care not to knock off the wheel weights!

After washing, wax the car, and spray the wheels with a suitable alloy wheel sealant. This will reduce the effects of salt and brake dust which can be a damaging combination to the paint. It also makes it alot easier to clean in future, and the wheels look smarter for longer.

Cold tyres, cold brakes and cold feet?  Attention to your tyres and braking technique may be useful this winter season…

Many people use softer compound “summer” tyres which are not recommend for use below 8 degrees Celsius.  This is because the compound of the rubber is designed to be soft at higher temperatures, but it much harder when it is cold.  It is therefore essential to keep an eye on the pressures and condition of the tyres during the winter months.  If the sidewalls of the tyres are showing any signs of cracking, they should be replaced.

In the cold weather you may find that your braking efficiency is slightly reduced. This is most noticeable on cars without servo assistance (Elise S1, S2, Exige S1, 340R), and is again temperature related.  Initial brake bite may be reduced after travelling on the motorway at speed for a while so take care when approaching those inevitable winter traffic hold-ups.

With the roads being generally dirty, it is often surprising the difference keeping your headlights clean will make to their effectiveness when driving in the dark.  If you drive alot at night, then it is well worth considering some upgraded bulbs, which can give you up to 50% more, whiter, light than the standard items.

The efficiency of the heater in the Elise S1 can be improved by insulating the ducting that passes from the heater box to the inlet above the footwell.  The original silver “extractor ducting” can be wrapped in a suitable non-conductive insulation like open-cell foam.

Keeping the inside of the windscreen and side windows clean, will help them to demist much quicker, as well as aid visibility in the dark.  Use a simple glass cleaning product with a clean microfibre cloth for best results.  Footwell mats get damp in winter, so remove them from the car to dry them out, which will help prevent misting and condensation in the car when you are driving.

A good quality car cover will help keep your pride and joy looking its best.  An indoor cover will ensure that all your polishing efforts won’t be contaminated by dust, an outdoor cover will protect the car from the weather should you need to leave it outside.  We have a range of indoor dust covers, as well as the excellent Stormforce outdoor covers (which can also be used indoors!), tailored to suit all Lotus models.  Also our Elemental shower covers are great for sealing up the gaps around the soft top roof, helping to keep moisture from accumulating inside the cockpit – which in turn helps keep the windows demisted.

Finally, if you are using the car occasionally, consider a battery conditioner such as the Optimate, which will ensure that your battery is kept in good condition, and the car will start on the button when you see that crisp sunny morning!

 

There are still some beautiful driving days in winter, so don’t be scared to take your car out, just be sure to follow these tips to keep everything in top working condition!

 

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