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Extreme Cold and Your Vehicle

winter car care

Besides dumping snow on the ground that can cause metro east travelers headaches, the winter season has other methods of disrupting our car’s performance. With the end of the year upon us, it is important to know what these affects are and how we can prevent them with winter car care. Every aspect of your vehicle can be impacted by cold weather. Below are some of the biggest impacts Old Man Winter can have.

Engine and Battery Performance

Generally speaking, cold weather delays our engines from running optimally. It can take approximately 20 minutes to warm up to proper operating temperature. This can take longer, though, with the use of the interior heaters. These siphon much-needed heat during the engine’s initial startup. Repeated short trips can be harder during this season as well. These trips won’t allow the engine to heat up completely. Startup is also harder on your car’s battery, as its capacity is reduced due to the cold. It is recommended that you replace a three or four year old battery before winter weather has the opportunity to kill them. Due to all these reasons combined, fuel consumption will be higher now than it was in summer as well. It is suggested that you let your vehicle start and warm up for at least twenty minutes before engaging the heater or heading out on the road.

Tire Performance

winter tire care

Tire pressure can fluctuate wildly due to extreme temperatures and should be checked regularly in the summer and the winter. For every 10 degrees F of temperature dropped, a tire can lose 1 pound per square inch of pressure. This may not seem like much, but an under-inflated tire will not perform well. This may also wear them down unevenly, shortening their life span. Additionally, low tire pressure combined with icy or snowy roads are a recipe for disaster. All-season tires can lose grip in winter as well, simply due to the rubber compound within them hardening in the cold. If you can’t get winter tires for your vehicle, keeping your current ones properly inflated is your next, best bet.

Vehicle Fluids

Checking your vehicles fluids is vital in the winter, as oil, antifreeze, power steering, brake, and transmission fluids can all thicken in winter due to the cold. Thicker oil can make it harder for your engine to turn over for its first start of the day. Other fluids can cause damage to internal seals in their thickened state. Keeping track of your fluids, changing to a thinner grade oil, and keeping them at the proper levels is vital – now more than ever.

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