Winter’s unpredictable weather can wreak havoc on your car. But quitting driving until the end of winter isn’t an option. Instead, let’s take a look at four of the most common cold-weather problems and some simple solutions to help prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle.
Low Tire Pressure
If, after a bit of cold weather, your low tire pressure light blinks on or you notice your tires look deflated – that temperature drop is very likely the culprit. Don’t worry; your tire’s air isn’t escaping through a leak or faulty valve. It just means that the air inside the tire condenses when it’s cold, taking up less space. Tire pressure decreases about 1 PSI (pound per square inch) every 10 degrees the temperature falls.
Signs of low tire pressure:
- The tire looks deflated or the sidewall is bulging
- The steering and tread feel off or uneven
- The car’s fuel economy reduces
When the temperatures outside start dropping, check your tire pressure regularly to ensure that your vehicle’s tire pressure is in the recommended range. Luckily all you have to do is add an appropriate amount of air back into the tires. You should be able to find the recommended tire pressure for your particular vehicle on the sticker of the driver’s side door jamb or in your owner’s manual.
Winter is when most people will start having problems with their batteries, and understandably so. Ever tried sucking molasses through a straw? It’s sluggish, slow going, and takes a lot of energy. This analogy does a great job of explaining how your car battery feels in cold temperatures. It takes up twice as much voltage to start your car in winter than in any other season.
Signs of a dying/dead battery:
- The engine is slow to start or won’t start at all
- Check engine light is on
- Power accessories such as audio systems and lights flicker or stop working
For batteries that are reaching the 2 to 5-year mark, this means that it’s time to say goodbye to the old battery and buy a replacement. But for vehicle batteries that still have plenty of life left in them, there are a few precautions you can take to keep your battery in good condition. Park your car out of the wind overnight to help protect the charge. When in doubt, charge it. A fully charged battery (if it’s not old) won’t freeze until -76 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your vehicle has many different types of fluids that keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely. When the temperatures drop – your engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and washer fluid will thicken – making it harder for these fluids to do their job.
Signs of thick fluids:
Besides changing your fluids regularly, starting your vehicle early and let it run for 10 to 15 minutes will help. The heat from the engine will thin out the fluids so they can do their job – which in turn will allow the car to run smoothly.
Here in the PNW, our windshield wipers get a lot of use year-round. But the worst time to realize that your windshield wipers need replacing is while getting blasted with freezing rain in the middle of your commute.
Signs your windshield wipers need to be replaced:
- Streaks or missed patches of precipitation on the window
- Brittle blades- the rubber splits or pulls away from the wiper arm.
- A chattering/skidding sound when you are using the wipers.
A few simple preventative measures that can help extend the life of your windshield wipers are to clean them of all ice before getting on the road or to lift your wipers off of the windshield after you park your car. Don’t forget that you can always use winter-specific windshield wiper fluid as well to keep those wipers in excellent condition.
These common cold-weather car problems are not a big problem at all if you prepare for them. Follow the tips we mentioned above to keep your vehicle in great condition right through the harshest weather of the year. If you do have problems contact our expert mechanics and they can help straighten it out for you in no time at all.