The cold weather affects your car’s performance. From not being able to start to serious safety concerns, the extreme weather requires some proactive maintenance. Below are three things you should know about how the cold will affect your vehicle.
The cold can affect how reliable your battery is. It is important to have your battery tested by a professional before winter arrives. The cold can drain your battery. On average, a battery should last about 3 years. As temperature plunge, they can make it harder for your vehicle’s battery to start. Batteries work best between 30 and 90 degrees. Anything below that is considered extreme.
Spark plugs can also have issues because of the cold. As temperatures drop, starting your car will become harder. A “hard start” with bad spark plugs can turn into a “no start” when extreme cold takes hold.
Be sure to check your fluids before freezing conditions cause problems. Water turns to ice when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. As most fluids contain some percentage of water, they can thicken as temperature plummet. This can cause problems for your vehicle. Thickened fluid will make it harder for your car to start. Transmission fluid, for example, needs to run quickly. When it is thickened, it flows slower and can impede your car’s functions. Oil, anti-freeze, power steering, brake, and gas should all be checked. HEET, or other similar products, can be added to the gas tank to ensure any water that may be in there does not freeze and damage your tank or gas lines. Wiper fluids should also be checked. (To help preserve your windshield wipers, be sure to use wiper fluids that include anti-freeze agents. It is also recommended that you tilt your wipers off your windshield while your car is sitting. Snow and ice can accumulate and freeze your wipers to your windshield. Wiper fluid and scraping may not be enough to unstick them before the rubber lips are damaged.)
The cold can wreak havoc on your tires as well. (Note: Winter tires may be a wise investment based on safety and manufacturing materials.) As temperatures drop, the pressure in your tires will decrease. Typically, for every 10 degrees the temperature drops, your tire loses 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure. Under-inflated tires can turn hazardous conditions into deadly ones very quickly. Under-inflated tires are more likely to pop regardless of the temperature. Be sure to check your tire pressure often during the colder months to ensure you have optimal traction.
A fall maintenance routine will help you keep your vehicle performing as it should during the winter. However, knowing the ways in which cold weather can affect your vehicle can help you gauge your car’s performance and safety level. Aside from the things listed above, pay attention to any sounds, alerts, or slips you experience while driving. Catching issues before extreme conditions start is ideal. However, being prepared and understanding the effects of cold on your car can continue to keep you safe while driving.