With low visibility due to snow and slippery roads, winter can be a hazardous time to drive. No matter how experienced or skilled a driver you are, the winter elements, such as frozen mud, icy roads, and snowfall, can conspire against you and your car.
As a car owner, you need to have your car regularly maintained and serviced the whole year-round, especially during the winter season, to avoid any mishaps. The freezing temperature can have harsh effects on your car’s health, including:
- Tire Pressure Fluctuation – The freezing air does not only cause shrinking of the metal, it can also reduce the pressure of the tires. Moreover, driving for a certain period of time causes the air in the tires to warm up, which restores the tire pressure. The constant air pressure fluctuation (deflation and inflation) can be stressful for the tires.
- Corrosion – Harsh winter temperatures can cause metal parts of your car to shrink. Also, the salt used to melt the snow on the streets can corrode your car’s metal body parts. The more frequently you are out on the road, the more salt sticks to the undercarriage, wheel wells, and brakes.
- Dead Battery – The car’s battery is extremely sensitive, especially when exposed to cold temperatures. Sub-zero temperatures cause the battery to cool down so it takes longer to power up the engine.
- Thickening Fluid – All car fluids (oil, antifreeze, and transmission fluid) thicken when subjected to cold air. Viscosity prevents the fluids from flowing freely through the engine, causing the car to breakdown when you least expect it.
- Wiper Malfunction – Snow that accumulates on your windshield can damage your car’s wiper blades. The freezing cold wind and snowfall can freeze the wipers to the windshield overnight. Frozen wiper blades can break if you do not clean the glass or peel them off before turning them on.
- Leakage – Condensation can form on the metal and plastic sections of your car due to constant warming up and cooling down of the engine during the winter. The water produced by condensation can eventually turn into ice and cause trouble to the vehicle systems, including the power steering, brake, and engine transmission. This could result in leakage in high and low-pressure systems since ice is unable to move through the line and orifices in your car.
- Fuel Consumption – Cars sometimes struggle to function normally during the winter season. When this happens, the cost of your fuel rises. Inadequate tire pressure causes the vehicle to move slower, which results in high fuel consumption. Leaving your car to idle for a few minutes to warm up every winter morning could also mean spending more on fuel.
Winter Car Care Tips
To ensure that your car is in tip-top shape as the temperature drops down, make sure to remember these quick, helpful car care tips. This will help you avoid getting stranded due to a dead battery or getting caught in an accident due to low visibility.
Take note of these preventive-care tips for the next big chill:
Winter can cause the battery to malfunction. Before driving your car in the cold weather, make sure to perform a volt test on your battery to ensure it has enough capacity to get you through the remaining winter months. You do not want to get stranded somewhere in the cold with a car that won’t start.
Also, it is wise to check the health of the battery before the start of the winter months. A weak battery could become dead in the winter.
- Replace Wiper Blades
Although wiper blades typically last a year, some start to lose their effectiveness in as short as 6 months. If you notice streaks or missed areas on the windshield, replace the wiper blades immediately.
Additionally, while cleaning the blade’s rubber edge regularly with a paper towel and glass cleaner can stretch its life, doing so may not be safe during winter. Instead, consider replacing wiper blades at least twice a year.
- Change the Oil
The cold weather affects the viscosity of the oil. The chilly air can cause the oil to thicken, reducing effectiveness and engine circulation. Avoid this problem by choosing an oil with lower viscosity. Most owner’s manuals provide information about the right oil viscosity for winter and other seasons.
While this may seem like a simple step, many car owners overlook it. Make sure you make the necessary switch before the chill sets in.
- Check Fluid Levels
It is a best practice to check the gas tank and make sure it is full before driving. Bad weather conditions or heavy traffic can force you to pull over and let your car idle for extended periods.
Inspect the level of your engine fluid, check its viscosity, and change it when necessary. Also, pay attention to other vehicle fluids, such as the windshield washer fluid and engine coolants. Replace engine coolants after 2 years of use. To prevent freezing and boiling over of engine fluids, fill up your engine cooling system with an equal mixture of distilled water and antifreeze. Refer to the car manual for the right coolant to use.
- Inspect Lights
In winter, days are shorter and the sun sets earlier. You will be spending more time driving in the dark. For your safety, your exterior lights should be in the best condition possible. Replace them immediately if they become foggy or burned out. Wipe snow or ice off your lights before driving.
- Switch to Winter Tires
Change your regular tires to tires designed for winter driving. When it comes to winter tires vs. all-season tires, the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada report that winter tires offer better traction (up to 50% more) than all-season tires.
When the temperature drops below 7° Celsius, make sure to install winter tires for improved surface grip in every type of road condition. Using winter tires also helps lower the auto insurance premium in some provinces, like Ontario. Just like all-season tires, make it a habit to check the air pressure in all four tires, as well as your spare tire.
At Round & Around Tire Inc, we offer tires for sale in winter. Our tire specialists will help you find high-quality winter tires that ensure peak handling performance during winter. Call us today at (905) 393-8474 or visit our tire shop in Hamilton.