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Keeping Your Vehicle's Safety Sensors Clean During the Winter

February 6, 2018

Keeping Your Vehicle's Safety Sensors Clean During the Winter

Living in a region that experiences the elements of winter weather means snow, ice, and even sometimes salt grime for your vehicle. Unfortunately, this can also lead to blocked sensors and cause them to no longer work. When drivers are aware of where the sensors are on their vehicle and how to keep them clean, they can keep them functioning as they should. Referencing the owner’s manual or asking your dealer are the best ways to locate and learn about your car’s sensors. There are 6 key areas you should be sure to keep clear in winter driving conditions:

Grille: When purchasing a new car, get familiar with all of the sensors that might be hidden in this area. This will let you know where you need to direct your cleaning efforts. The most common grille locations for sensors are out front within the grille or in the lower center of the front bumper.

Windshield: Newer vehicles will usually have sensors behind the windshield for automatic wipers or forward-collision warning (FCW). Unfortunately, these sensors are sometimes not within reach of your wiper blades. This means you may need to stop frequently during poor weather conditions to clean any built up ice or snow from your windshield. 

Rear body quarter panels: Here you will usually find the sensors or radars for blind-spot monitoring systems. They can also be located in the rear of your vehicle for when you are in reverse. If you have an older vehicle, especially a Volvo or an Acura, these cameras will be located below the outside mirrors. 

Front and rear bumpers: Sensors in these areas power the parking alert systems. The front sensors alert you when you are pulling to close to an object. The back ones tell you when there is an object coming towards you in a parking lot.

Rearview camera: When mud, snow, ice and salt cover this camera it will likely be useless to you. Be sure to keep it cleaned off as much as possible. 

Front grille cameras: Found underneath the side mirrors and in the back to give power to a 360-degree view system, these cameras will become useless if they are covered in snow or salt. 

Getting routine car washes are the easiest way to help maintain clean and functioning cameras and sensors. You can do the car washes yourself if you want. Just be sure to use a mild detergent formulated especially for vehicles in order to preserve your car’s paint. Although, you should be mindful when you are cleaning the fenders as salt and sand can scratch the paint due to their abrasive qualities. Dry your vehicle completely after washing, especially areas where the cameras and sensors are located. Otherwise, you can help the formation of ice and attract dirt.

Before getting on the road, you will want to make sure that all of the snow is off of your car. In some places, this is actually a law. Don’t forget that just because your vehicle starts out clean and snow-free, you will likely still have to stop on long trips to clean off your sensors and cameras. Depending on your vehicle type and road or weather conditions, you may need to stop approximately every 20 miles to ensure that your sensors and cameras are kept clean and are properly functioning.

Tags: Safety , Winter