Ways That Cold Weather Impacts Your Vehicle

Ways That Cold Weather Impacts Your Vehicle

During the winter, it can seem like your car has embarked on a mission of self-destruction. To many vehicle owners’ dismay, it’s common to have to take an extra trip or two to the mechanic when temperatures drop. From freezing fluids to shrinking metal components, here are some of the most common ways that cold weather impacts your vehicle. 

Thickening Fluids

When temperatures dip, the fluids in your vehicle can start to thicken. Such a change in viscosity can prevent important fluids—such as transmission or brake fluid—from circulating throughout their respective systems and performing their crucial responsibilities. As a result, numerous vehicle issues, such as gear slipping or premature wear due to a lack of lubrication, may occur. To preserve your transmission and other important internal components that depend on fluids to work properly, consider switching to synthetic fluids, which work well in lower temperatures. 

Shrinking Metal Parts

Cold weather can cause metal to shrink or contract. This phenomenon occurs because the cold decreases kinetic energy and causes atoms to take up less space. Vehicles consist of numerous metal components, and such contraction can pose several potential issues. Namely, shrinking metal components can cause seals to loosen, which often results in leaking fluids. As such, vehicle owners should keep a close eye out for any signs of fluid leaks during the wintertime.

Tire Pressure Problems

Another way that cold weather impacts your vehicle is by causing tire pressure to decrease. Just like metal, air tends to contract when the temperature lowers. During the winter, vehicle owners can expect their tire pressure to drop between one and two psi for every 10-degree decrease in temperature. Because driving on underinflated tires can lead to premature wear, tread separation, and blowouts, it’s important to keep a close eye on your tire pressure during the winter.

A Dead Battery

One of the most common car problems people experience during the winter is a dead battery. When temperatures dip below freezing, the starting capacity of a car battery declines. As a result, the battery has to work harder to get the car started. If the battery has experienced any significant wear and tear over time, the extra stress can cause it to fail completely. To avoid winding up with a dead battery on the side of the road, make sure to keep jumper cables in your car, and consider replacing your battery if it’s over three years old.

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Sue Baxter