The harsh winters in many parts of Russia are inevitable. Both people and cars have no choice but to evade, but must adapt. Yakutsk, Norilsk, and Vorkuta are cities known for their extremely cold weather, but surprisingly, people still choose to live there.
In Yakutsk for example, temperatures can drop to -30°C in mid-October, so most locals "put to sleep" their cars (removing the battery) and leave them outside until spring, and temporarily switch to public transport. If you thought heated garages were common, you would be wrong, because Yakutsk stands on a layer of ice so there is no underground parking space.
Some newly built apartment blocks have parking spaces on the ground floor, but this is rare. In general, city dwellers park their cars on the street, which means starting the car's engine when the temperature is -50°C is a serious problem.
In the north, drivers plug parking heaters like those made by Webasto into their engines. Installation costs in Yakutsk are around 35,000 rubles ($600 USD). The heating system is turned on remotely and after an hour or so the car engine is ready to start. In Novy Urengoy people install electricity in their parking lot, but this is not very safe.
The most radical method is to keep the engine running from the fall in October to the spring in April. This is what many car owners here do. They parked the car with the engine running, left the keys inside and the alarm went off, using a spare key to open the car when they wanted to get in.
“Who would steal it at -50°C? There aren't many people hanging around outside when it's so cold,” says Sergei Permyakov, an architect from Yakutsk. He added that it is better to leave the car in a slightly uphill position so that water does not collect in the exhaust, otherwise the engine will stop and it will be difficult to start it again.
One of the main disadvantages of running the engine all the time is the fuel consumption. In addition, a car that is parked for a long time in cold weather will cause damage to the wheels, as locals joke, the wheels turn into squares.
Overnight Under the Blanket
Portable garage warmers are not cheap but very useful and usually come in the form of a blanket that stretches over the body of the car or prevents it from freezing. The price is between 6,000 - 20,000 rubles ($105.00 - $350.00 USD) depending on the size of the vehicle.
"When a car is not used for a long time, the cover is stretched on top and tightened at the bottom, and a rubber pipe is put on the exhaust to vent exhaust gases. The car does not cool down so it can be used all winter," according to Larisa from Yakutsk. "The cover for my car (a Toyota Vitz) costs 11,000 rubles ($120.00 USD). It takes five to 10 minutes to put it on, but it's quicker to take it off."
Look how beautiful Yakutsk is in winter! When the temperature drops below -40°C, the city is covered in icy fog, it's like driving through milk.
And just imagine! With poor visibility, drivers can still monitor their side windows from the inside with a special window film that keeps the heat inside. Admittedly, you can't open windows with this window film, but who wants to? Many drivers install a second external windshield as a precaution in case the main windshield cracks while driving, and many stop using the wipers in winter altogether.
When the temperature is -50/-60°C outside, an unprotected car can freeze in minutes. All the liquid inside thickened, the rubber parts became brittle and crumbled, and the windows were coated with ice. So many drivers are starting to isolate their cars from the fall onwards.
At a car service center, this job costs about 500 rubles ($10.00 USD), Larisa says. "The exhaust is covered with mineral wool and the underside of the car with a tarpaulin. And the engine is protected with felt or "auto blanket," allowing the engine to warm up faster but keep cooling down longer. Some individual modifier enthusiasts even make blankets. for the battery. Felt is also used to keep the floor in the car warm."
Can you imagine how Russians would have endured winter hundreds of years ago without heating?