Is It Below Freezing? Check Your Car

Once the temperature dips below freezing, there’s not too much you can do to protect your car from the elements. Unless you have room in a garage (and a well-insulated one at that), then the cold will seep in overnight while you’re not using it. But you can keep an eye out for common problems.

What are the most common problems in winter?

There are three general categories of seasonal stress on your car: increased cold, sudden use of the heating systems after months of dormancy, and new driving patterns. Here’s what to look out for because of the cold:

Flatter tires.

Even if you regularly check your tires’ air pressure, a sudden temperature drop can make them unexpectedly droop. Cold air is more condensed, and the air pressure in your tires will lower even with the same amount of air. So if you notice your tires flattening every time it gets a bit colder, you don’t have a leak; you just need to top off the air pressure. Even if the change isn’t visible, it could be enough to make your tires not grip the road as well. Check the pressure manually before every long trip, before driving on icy roads, and every time you think to yourself that it’s colder than you expected.

Frozen car fluids.

You have a few water-based fluids in your car, and they can turn icy in low temperatures. Even the oil-based liquids tend to thicken and clump and that can add extra stress to your engine if it’s not getting adequate lubrication or air. Keep an ear open for unusual sounds or make a note whenever something like turning or braking takes more effort than it usually does.

Batteries that struggle to hold a charge.

Batteries don’t like the cold, and that’s even more true for car batteries. If your car has a pattern of battery troubles or it’s been a long time since you’ve changed your battery, take it in to a mechanic to get it checked and maybe replaced. And whether you have a new battery or an old one, do two things:

  • Double check that you have jumper cables in your car (and that you remember which color goes where).
  • Go through your insurance benefits to see if free battery charges and tows are part of your plan. They often are, and they’re usually forgotten about.

Winter causes a few more problems for everyone’s car, so schedule an appointment as Key Collision and Paint Center to get any concerns checked before the next storm.

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