What Lower Temperatures Mean for Your Car

by Alek Sabin

Winter, while still being lovely, can also be immensely destructive to the things that we own. For just about everything we own that touches the outdoors, the winter elements are going to have an impact on its durability. This is especially true for vehicles. Driving through the snow and incredibly low temperatures is a significantly different experience than doing so when it is warmer and more temperate. Here are some major ways that our car is impacted by lower (particularly freezing) temperatures…

Tires harden and lose pressure

First of all, one of the major things that you’ll notice when you are driving in freezing temperatures is that your tires are likely going to have far less grip on the road than they do when it is warmer. The reason for this is that most tires are made of a rubber that hardens up in the cold, which makes them lose their grip. Manufacturers do make special snow tires that are designed to stay pliable in cold temperatures, which improves their grip.
In addition to this, a sudden drop in temperature, overnight, can cause tires to lose air pressure, so it is important to check your tires more regularly in the wintertime.

Engine efficiency decreases

The scariest change that could happen to your vehicle when the temperatures change is that the sudden shift in temperature could make a weak or old engine block crack. Depending on how bad the crack is, this could potentially total your vehicle, or cause it to stall (although that might not necessarily be because of the engine block). This can be prevented by making sure that your vehicle’s antifreeze has been checked, recently.
Aside from the engine block breaking, the engine of a car is also going to run less efficiently in the winter, due to the fact that it is exhausting more energy to warm up. This means that the engine must work harder and produce higher emissions to get to the optimal performance it is designed to reach.

Weak batteries might die

Most types of batteries tend to lose charge, quicker, when they are in colder temperatures. For this reason, if you leave something on in your car without the engine running, it is liable to die a lot faster. If you have a newer battery, you shouldn’t have any problems when winter comes, so long as you only draw energy from it when the vehicle is running. However, it is common for old batteries to finally lose their ability to retain a charge when the temperatures start to reach a freezing point.

Different oil for different temperatures

Depending on the vehicle that you drive, the oil that is recommended for your vehicle is probably different, depending on the season. This is because certain types of motor oil begin to thicken, when it is freezing outside. Because of this, even though a vehicle will get lesser performance and efficiency, many manufacturers recommend that you switch to a lighter oil when winter begins. Check your vehicle’s owner manual to see if you need to change the type of oil you are putting in your vehicle.
In general, it is just a good idea to check all of your fluids before winter starts, so that you know your vehicle is in an optimal position to deal with the cold conditions. Here’s a helpful, handy guide on how to check your vehicle’s fluids.

Winter wears away at aesthetic options

When it comes to your car’s paint job and any additional upgrades to the exterior, winter’s harsh elements just tend to wear away more of the vehicle than would otherwise happen in the summer months. Not only does snow and freezing temperatures wear away at your paint at a quicker rate, but it also can quickly eat away at the undercarriage of your vehicle. For this reason, many car owners opt to powder coat the frame of their car, along with other parts, due to the fact that it increases durability and offers more protection than paint.


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