We often consider our vehicles as extensions of our individual selves. Even though our vehicles aren’t alive in the sense that they are breathing beings, they do share one characteristic with us. Like you, your vehicle hates extremely cold weather and does not operate as well in low temperatures.
Recently, we talked about how to prepare your vehicle for winter weather, however, even a well maintained vehicle can suddenly experience problems if the temperature dips well below freezing, especially if the deep freeze occurs for an extended period. Here are some problems that an unexpectedly crop up during severe winter weather.
Battery problems are by far the most common winter weather headache. Extreme cold pulls voltage from your battery, reducing cranking power by as much as 60%. Most batteries last about three years, so if yours is nearing the end of its useful life, it could fail even if you’ve head it checked recently. If you don’t have a garage, try to park your vehicle with the hood as near a building as possible to shield it from the wind. Heat from the building will also help. Battery blankets can aid cold-weather starting. Make sure battery cables are not loose by checking to see if they can slip free from the nodes when the engine is turned off. If so, tighten the nuts as this can save you from battery loss in the middle of a drive.
Cold air takes a toll on tire pressure. A 10 degree temperature change can cause a 10% reduction of air in tires. Tire pressure can drop overnight, so check inflation frequently as air gets colder. Correct tire pressure is essential to proper handling. Under-inflated tires are subject to damage or failure, particularly in snowy and icy conditions.
Check All Fluids
Many fluids, particularly motor oil, thicken during cold temperatures. Choose a thinner, winter-weight oil to help the engine turn over. Make sure antifreeze is filled. Spend a little extra money to get a winter blend for windshield wiper fluid as these have a greater concentration of alcohol and are less likely to freeze. Clear your windshield before driving to minimize problems with broken wipers. The rubber on the wipers is subject to cracking and breakage in the cold.
Avoid Short Trips if Possible
We’ve all heard this advice. The reason behind this it is your engine doesn’t warm fully until 20 minutes into your drive, causing water vapor to build in your motor oil and exhaust system. Try to keep the gas tank filled to at least half to avoid this possibility and help maintain gas mileage.