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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Give Winter-Weary Cars a Spring Clean

It's beginning to look as though spring is coming to Moscow. Not that I trust warm weather in February -- cold is predicted for March. But nevertheless, now might be a good time to prepare your car for the warmer season.


The first thing to do is wash your car. Not out on the street but in a warm, well-equipped place. There is a good car wash located in the big gas station to the left off Kutuzovsky Prospekt as you are driving out of the city.


It is particularly important to wash the bottom of the car, the engine compartment and the bodywork around the tires. Don't worry about washing the inside of the car if you don't want to.


What does the most damage is the liquid which the Moscow government has been using this winter to get rid of snow on the streets. You may have noticed that there has been a lot of slush and water about even during the coldest periods, and your car is probably now covered with this chemical concoction. If you don't remove it from the bodywork, rust will start to corrode the metal parts very quickly. It is this chemical stuff that has eaten through the electric cables of the city's trolleybus system this week, stranding vehicles and creating chaos. So, if you want to protect your car, wash it.


Many of my friends are having problems with the electricity in their cars (I've heard that old BMWs in particular are suffering), and what's causing the problem is the bad weather and the amount of water on the streets, which can cause short circuits.


To prevent this, you should buy some WD40 -- oil in a spray can which you can use to protect parts of your car against water.


You should spray the fuse box if it's in the engine compartment, the wires in the doors and some of the contacts on the engine (oil pressure, antifreeze level, etc.) if they are exposed.


Water can cause problems in other ways: Check your headlamps and, if you can see water inside, you should inspect the seal around the glass. Otherwise, your halogen bulbs will very quickly be ruined. Some Russian drivers have a trick for dealing with this: They put a small amount of brake fluid inside the headlamps. It won't damage the bulbs; instead it will cause a chemical reaction that gets rid of the water and keeps the glass inside clean. I must say, however, that I've never tried this myself.


Russian-made cars suffer from one more problem connected with water: brake failure. If water gets in the brakes, they won't work. So if you have just driven through a big puddle, it's a good idea to press down on the brakes to dry them off.