How Winter Weather Can Damage Your Car

How Winter Weather Can Damage Your Car

Winter is rough on vehicles, there’s no two ways about it. Cold weather can impact everything from your battery to your tires and affect not only performance but safety. Since not driving isn’t really a viable option, what can you do to minimize the wear and tear that the weather can inflict on your car, truck, or SUV?


Let’s look at some common issues that winter weather can cause when it comes to your vehicle.

How Winter Weather Can Damage Your Car

Battery Problems 

You’re in a hurry, you’ve had a hectic morning, and you finally make it out to your vehicle… only to find it won’t turn over. Low temps slow the speed of the chemical reactions that occur in your battery - which makes the engine harder to start…. If it starts at all!

Tip: Get your battery tested (you can do it at auto stores) and make sure it’s in good shape for the winter. If not, replace it. You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and aggravation. Also, when you get where you’re going, turn off your stereo, lights, heated seats, and other systems that can draw on the battery when you try to start your car next. 

It’s always a good idea to carry a pair of jumper cables and/or a jump pack with you. Even if you’re all set, you can help out someone with a dead battery.

Cooling System Issues 

No, you won’t need to run your AC much in the winter; we’re talking about the system that runs coolant through the engine to keep it from overheating. All of the moving parts in an engine generates tremendous heat, and coolant is designed to absorb it. That heat is then dispersed into your car when you turn on your heater.

If your coolant has too much water, though, it can freeze. When this happens, the moisture expands inside your cooling system and engine - which can cause extensive damage.

Tip: Ask your mechanic if your coolant needs to be flushed (it’ll be dark and murky if it needs replacing). Make sure you have a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water to prevent issues

Thickening Fluids

Cold weather thickens essential fluids, such as engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and washer fluid. When oil is too thick, it can damage your engine. Other fluids will not be able to perform up to par when cold.

You may also experience issues with your gas tank. When condensation forms and water drips down into your tank, it builds up. When temperatures are freezing or below, water falls to the bottom of the tank where the fuel lines are. If water in the fuel lines freezes, it blocks gas from traveling from the tank to the engine. Your car will not start.

Tip: Swap your all-season oil for a winter-specific option, and make sure you’re running winter-rated washer fluid. To ensure transmission, brake, and power steering fluid perform optimally, allow your car to warm up for a few minutes and drive gently when you start out to give the fluids time to flow more easily. Keep all fluids at the proper levels.

To prevent gas tank issues, make sure to keep your tank at least half full when temperatures fall below freezing. 

Underinflated Tire

If the temperature drops by 10 degrees, your tire pressure will drop by one pound. Cold weather causes underinflated tires, and this can lead to an unsafe situation on the roads. All-season tires also have rubber that loses flexibility at about 45 degrees, so they have less grip on snowy or icy surfaces.

Tip: Invest in a set of winter tires to ensure maximum safety. Buy an inexpensive pressure gauge and give your tires a quick check every now and again to ensure they are inflated to the manufacturer’s suggested pressure. 

If you do get winter tires, swap them out in the spring. You can get a few years’ use out of this set and save some money.

Body Damage 

This time of year is rough on your vehicle’s exterior. You’re driving over salt and sand, which keeps you safe but can lead to extensive corrosion and rust. Additionally, sand and gravel kick up and creates chips and nicks in your windshield and paint, and if you slip and slide (and end up in a snowbank), dings and dents can lead to rust. Winter can age your car prematurely!

Tip: Wash your car regularly to remove salt and sand from nooks, crannies, and the undercarriage so rust does not have a chance to gain a foothold. Make sure to repair any dings and dents immediately to avoid more serious - and expensive - issues down the road. 

Winter is a formidable foe for your car - but you can fight back! Taking a few simple steps and making sure to repair any body damage before it has a chance to worsen will help you weather the weather! Contact us for more information about dent and ding repair in Asheville.