Can Cold Weather Damage Your Car? Your car is a warm, cozy refuge from the freezing conditions of winter, protecting you from the chill of the wind and the damp snow – at least, that’s what you think. It might be nice inside your car once the heat blasts, but you must remember to care for your car’s exterior. The cold weather can do a number on it, and it’s best to be prepared and know what to look for.
So how can the cold weather damage your car? Read on to find out.
Fluctuations In Tire Pressure
Unless you’re driving a super-specialized race car, your tires are filled with the same air that you breathe, meaning that the air in your tires is influenced by the outdoor temperature.
It’s not uncommon for the tire pressure warning light to come on at some point during the fall. As the general outdoor temperature drops, the pressure changes, so you will need to put more air into your tires.
But cold weather can also impact your car tires even once it’s cold on a day-to-day basis. Tire pressure can decrease at rest and increase when the car moves, meaning that you need to make sure you’re accounting for this fluctuation when setting your tire pressure.
The rule of thumb? If the tire pressure light comes on, check your tires as soon as possible.
Driving with tire pressure that’s too low or too high can lead to uneven wear across your tires and a shortened lifespan, as well as more dangerous problems such as a tire blowout.
Your Battery Might Die
Cold weather isn’t good for your car’s battery. When the temperature drops towards freezing, the battery needs to work harder to start the car. New batteries can typically handle this extra effort, but if your battery is four years old or older, you might go to start your car only to find it dead.
Rule of thumb? If your battery is at least three years old, have the capacity checked before wintertime, and replace the battery if necessary. You don’t want to be stuck in the cold with a dead car battery!
If you have access to a garage, park your car inside during the winter. It will provide shelter from the coldest temperatures and help expand the lifespan of your car battery.
Salt Can Damage Every Part Of Your Car
In order to make the roads drivable, road crews use salt to melt the snow. Unfortunately, salt is corrosive. Over time, it can eat through the metal of your car – especially the areas that are most out-of-sight (but closest to the road surface) such as the undercarriage, wheel wells, and brakes. Yikes!
The rule of thumb? Wash your car monthly during the winter, including the undercarriage. Salt takes time to cause damage, so it’s best not to let it linger.
Fluids Can Get Thicker
Your car is filled with fluids that help it run, from gasoline to windshield wiper fluid and oil. Even though they’re formulated to accommodate shifting temperatures, just as water freezes to ice in cold weather, the fluids in your car can thicken in the cold. This can impact their effectiveness and can even cause damage to the interior workings of your car.
The rule of thumb? Warm up your car for about 10 minutes if the temperature drops below freezing. It’s not necessary to warm the car up until it’s comfortably hot inside or to warm the car up if it’s cold out but not below freezing. But when the temperatures do drop below freezing, a quick warm-up will help the internal components work the best they can.