An Arctic blast pummeled the Northeast this past Valentine’s Day weekend, bringing bitter cold to much of the Midwest and Southeast. Here’s a look at how dangerously low temperatures affect your car.
Battery. In freezing temperatures, your battery requires twice as much electrical current to get your car started. A half-dead battery can work fine in the summer, but it might leave you stranded once the weather gets cold.
Experts estimate that you should replace your battery every three to five years. When it’s freezing outside, you really don’t want to turn your key in the ignition and hear the telltale “click” — so make sure to get your battery tested regularly, along with your starting and charging systems.
Fluids. The cold thickens fluids, including your oil, coolant, power steering, brake and transmission fluids. If your oil is due for a change, consider buying a lower-viscosity type of oil meant for colder weather, and top off or refill the rest of your car’s fluids as needed.
Cold weather can also freeze windshield wiper fluid, which can be a problem when salt from the roads interferes with your visibility. You can buy a “winter blend” windshield wiper fluid to avoid this problem—these blends feature less water and more alcohol so they’re less likely to freeze.
Tires. According to Pep Boys, your tires can lose 1-2 PSI for every 10°F drop in temperature. Make sure to check your tire pressure regularly, and fill up according to the guidelines on the label inside the driver’s side door. In addition, if you live in a place that sees a lot of snow, it might be worth investing in winter tires, which provide better traction in icy conditions.
Idling. It might be tempting to let your car warm up before your morning commute, but if you leave it idling for more than a couple of minutes, you could be doing damage. Idling for too long causes buildup on your spark plugs, making your car less fuel-efficient. Prolonged idling also dilutes your oil with unburned fuel, which is harmful to your engine.
Drive safe, and stay warm!
–brought to you by Urgent.ly, America’s Leading On-Demand Roadside Assistance Service.