This year has flown by, and fall will be no exception. Before we know it, winter weather – and the hazards that come with it – will be among us. Not only will the cold winter weather affect your driving and road safety, but it will also impact your vehicle itself.
Here’s what you should know:
HOW COLD WEATHER CAN AFFECT YOUR CAR
- Fluids thicken when temperatures cool. This includes oil, power steering, antifreeze, transmission, and brake fluids.
- Cold weather is rough on your car’s battery: Dropping temperatures make the battery work harder to start the car. Car batteries produce less current, or electrical power, when it’s cold.
- Cold weather causes tires to lose air pressure. Driving with over or under inflated tires can lead to uneven wear and a shortened lifespan for the tire, and possibly even a blow out.
- Road salt or sand can stick to your car’s metal components (especially the undercarriage, brakes and wheel wells) and can cause them to corrode. Wash your car frequently in the winter months to eliminate salt or sand build up. Be sure to thoroughly clean the undercarriage at least once a month.
3 WAYS TO READY YOUR CAR FOR COLD WEATHER
The last thing you want is to end up stranded on the side of the road in inclement weather conditions. These are some things you can do now to try and prevent such an outcome.
- Check fluids. It is a must to change your fluids before the winter cold arrives, and to make sure the fluids are at the proper levels. If it has been more than 12 months since you have last done so, flush and add new antifreeze. Also, before driving, start the car for about 10 minutes to warm it up, as fluids are not thin enough in their cold state to be forced through internal seals. This could lead to tears in the seals or other internal issues. You should also keep an eye on these fluids during the cold months, as there may come a point when they need to be addressed.
- Check the battery. As mentioned above, cold weather puts additional strain on the car battery. Have your battery and charging system tested before cold weather arrives. This isn’t a guarantee that your battery will last through the winter, but it will let you know if it is in immediate danger of failing. If it has been more than three or four years since your battery was last replaced, consider having a new one installed. To protect your battery, park in a garage or under cover whenever possible. The less direct exposure to the elements the better.
- Check the tires (don’t forget the spare). Cold winter weather often includes rain, sleet, snow, and ice. Having tires in good condition is vital to remaining safe when driving under these conditions. Make sure your tires are properly aligned and balanced, check the tread, check for visible signs of cracks and wear, and make sure they are properly inflated. During the winter months check your tire pressure once a week, in the morning for most accurate results.
At Meridian Automotive, bring in your car for a winter check up and we will perform a complete vehicle inspection and check all of your car’s systems to make sure they are ready for winter. Just call!
IMPROVING FUEL ECONOMY IN COLD WEATHER
Cold weather has a negative impact on fuel economy, thus taking money right out of your pocket. If you wish to improve your fuel economy in the cold months ahead, you may find the following tips from the U.S. Department of Energy beneficial.
- Park your car in a warmer place, such as your garage, to increase the initial temperature of your engine and cabin.
- Combine trips when possible so that you drive less often with a cold engine.
- Minimize idling your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven, which will allow the heat to turn on sooner, decrease your fuel costs, and reduce emissions.
- Don’t use seat warmers or defrosters more than necessary.
- Check your tire pressure regularly.
- Use the type of oil recommended by your manufacturer for cold weather driving.
- Remove accessories that increase wind resistance, like roof racks, when not in use.
- If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, preheating the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend your vehicle’s range.
- If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, using the seat warmers instead of the cabin heater can save energy and extend range.
Now is the time to ready your car for winter. You don’t want to wait until it is too late! Schedule an appointment with us to put your mind at ease before the cold temperatures arrive.