How Can Extreme Cold Affect My Car? - OHS Body Shop

Roughly two-thirds of Americans are no strangers to severely cold winters, snow blizzards, and extreme temperatures. And so are their vehicles.

Not only do subzero temperatures, icy roads, and stormy winds make driving pretty hard and even dangerous in winter, but they also affect the vehicles and their safety.

In this article, we discuss how living and driving in a cold climate can affect your car and what you can do to minimize the damage and prevent its consequences.

How does cold affect a car?

You may instantly notice that your vehicle “behaves” differently when temperatures go down. It usually happens due to the following reasons:

  • Freezing engine fluids – they become thick and stringy. It affects their circulation and therefore the work of all the vehicle’s systems;
  • Dead battery – it is harder for the battery to generate enough energy to start your car in cold temperatures;
  • Low tire pressure – air contracts when it is cold; therefore, you are likely to see the “low pressure” warning signal on your dashboard in winter;
  • Ice in fuel lines – while gasoline can’t physically freeze in temperature above -40F, condensation, and moisture In the air may lead to fuel line icing;
  • Damage of rubber parts – some rubber parts in your car may lose elasticity and even crumble in cold weather;
  • Glitches in LCD screens – Liquid crystal displays may freeze, become less responsive, or even shut off entirely in extreme cold. However, this problem is most likely to disappear as soon as the car warms up.

How to prevent winter damage to a car?

Knowing which parts of your car are most vulnerable to cold damage, you can easily prevent it.

Here are some essential winter maintenance rules:

  • Try to keep your car in coverage– If it is possible to keep a vehicle in a covered, preferrable heated parking place, don’t leave it outside. In winter, temperatures may drop dramatically overnight, affecting the battery, fluids, and tire pressure of your vehicle at the same time. Not to mention the long-term damage that may happen if you leave the car in subzero temperatures regularly;
  • Keep the fuel tank half-full – If you pull till the last moment before fueling a car, moisture condensation in fuel lines will make them icy, damage the system and increase the fuel intake;
  • Get jumper cables – battery is the part of your car most vulnerable to cold. Make sure to keep jumper cables in the baggage in case you get stuck with a dead battery;
  • Get winter tires and check the wheels thoroughly – winter tires provide better adhesion with the road and are also less vulnerable to temperature change. Make sure to check your wheels thoroughly before the winter and at the first sign of a “bumpy” ride or low tire pressure;
  • Take care of the rubber parts – use a special silicone spray to prevent rubber parts from freezing and crumbling. Also, make sure to tilt up the wiper blades before a snowstorm. It will prevent them from breaking under the weight of snow or ice;
  • Water is not your friend – in subzero temperatures, water is your worst enemy and a reason for most issues and damage. Never try to deice a windshield or unfreeze a lock with hot water. Water will eventually freeze, causing even more severe damage to the car. In case there is no commercial de-icer available, use alcohol to clear the ice, but never consider it as a long-term solution as it can also cause certain damage to a car’s materials and systems.

To ensure that your car will stay safe this winter, don’t forget about the regular routine check-ups at a reputable service center.

Here at OHS Body Shop, we provide all kinds of schedules and urgent services, seasonal check-ups, and repairs. Visit one of our branches located in Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Polson and enjoy driving a safe and serviceable car next winter.