Spring is on the way, but those of us who live in areas with colder winters know that March comes in like a lion, before it goes out like a lamb. Before you let your guard down to the perils of winter driving, give some thought to some common cold weather vehicle problems and how you can prevent them.
Cold temperatures are pretty rough on your vehicle, so it could use some extra care to prevent winter-related weather vehicle problems. Here are some of those problems and how you can resolve or prevent them.
Check and Maintain Proper Tire Pressure
It is not uncommon for pressure to drop with the temperature, leaving you with underinflated tires. Tires typically lose 1 pound per square inch (psi) for every 10 degrees that the temperature falls. This can affect your vehicle’s handling and fuel efficiency, and even cause tire damage. To avoid this problem, make sure to check your tire pressure regularly and keep it at the recommended level.
Get Your Vehicle’s Battery Tested
Did you know that extremely low temperatures strain your car battery? This is because lower temperatures can reduce the battery’s capacity, making it harder for it to start the engine. If your battery is already old or weak, it might not even start at all. To avoid this problem, it’s a good idea to have your battery tested before the winter season starts. Also, make sure to keep your battery terminals clean and tight, as corrosion can also weaken the battery.
Prevent Thickened Fluids Problems
Freezing temperatures cause thickening of fluids your car needs to run properly, including transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, oil, and coolant. It is much harder for cold fluids to flow properly, which increases the likelihood of damage to your engine, transmission, and other parts of your vehicle. Make sure to use the recommended fluids for your vehicle and have them changed regularly. Between changes, check your fluid levels frequently, and have them topped off if necessary.
Wash Your Vehicle to Prevent Road Salt Corrosion
Road salt exposure throughout the winter season has a punishing effect on the metal components of your vehicle. Most auto designs have an exposed underbody, which means the majority of salt damage occurs underneath the car, where it goes visually undetected. Fortunately, corrosion and rust do not happen quickly. This means that you have time to undo salt damage potential with regular car washes.
Protect Your Vehicle from Frozen Fuel Lines
When the temperature drops below freezing, the water in your fuel lines can freeze and prevent your vehicle from starting. A good way to avoid this problem is to make sure to keep your gas tank at least half full and use a fuel additive that can prevent water from freezing.
Clear Away Excessive Ice and Snow Before Using Your Wipers
Snow and ice can damage your wiper blades, making them less effective at clearing your windshield. To avoid this problem, make sure to use winter wiper blades, which are designed to perform better in cold weather conditions. Clear any snow or ice from your windshield to avoid putting excessive strain on your wipers.
Even after taking these preventive measures, always be prepared for a road emergency. During the winter months, travel with items in your trunk such as a roadside emergency kit, blankets, gloves, boots, packaged hand warmers, and a folding shovel. Stay warm, stay safe, and be prepared!