5 Common Winter Car Problems to Watch Out For

December 1st, 2022 by

About 94 percent of traffic accidents in the United States are due to human error. But, every year, there are about 44,000 accidents resulting from vehicle issues. The good news is that the majority of these are avoidable. However, accidents aren’t the only thing that can cause issues; weather presents its own challenges.

The harsh road conditions encountered during winter months can bring unique and dangerous issues. It is even more vital to ensure your vehicle is in optimal driving condition during this time of year. The important thing is to be able to identify potential issues before they become major concerns.

Here are five common winter car problems to keep an eye out for. The information below will tell you how to avoid component-failure pitfalls so that you and your family will be safe on the road all winter. 

1. Low Tire Pressure

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Low tire pressure is one of the most common winter car problems. As the temperature falls, air molecules slow down and take up less space. This means the space they take up contracts.

With every 10 degrees in temperature decrease, you can expect to lose about 1 PSI (pound per square inch) in tire pressure. (The reverse is true for when it heats back up.)

If your air indicator light comes in during the first cold spell, cold temperatures could be the culprit. Ensuring your tires are topped off in anticipation of the cold weather and checking the pressure regularly is an easy way to avoid this issue.

2. Dead Battery

Cold weather, especially temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit can sap the power from your car battery. That is because batteries rely on an electrochemical reaction to generate electricity used to crank your car. Much like the molecules in your tires, the ions inside batteries get sluggish in cold weather.

If you have a battery that is less than a year old, you should be fine. Regardless, test the level of power in your battery before the extreme cold kicks in.

3. Failing Spark Plugs

During colder temperatures, metal car components are more susceptible to corrosion. This applies to spark plugs as well.

Corroded spark plugs can have a hard time producing a spark. If your car won’t start, this is a good place to look. Also, replacing older, worn spark plugs before issues arise can get you through the cold winter months without incident.

4. Thick Oil

Most fluids in your vehicle, including motor oil, are made to withstand cold temperatures. However, if you live in an area where the temperature often drops below freezing, you might still experience issues. Extreme cold causes engine oil to thicken, which can make your engine run less efficiently and even cause damage.

One easy fix is to use higher-viscosity engine oil. If you are not already using full-synthetic oil, this is a good reason to start. It has a much lower freezing temperature than standard oils or synthetic blends, with makes it much more stable and reliable.

5. Frozen Windshield Wipers

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A good rule of thumb is to replace your windshield wipers about once a year. This of course depends on usage, but the beginning of winter is a good time to check the condition of your wipers. Older ones are more likely to crack and peel in colder conditions.

Windshield wipers are cheap–replacing them is an easy way to avoid them becoming inoperable in the middle of a slow, sleet, or ice storm. Also, if you know temperatures are going to be dropping below freezing overnight, flip your windshield wipers up. This will prevent them from becoming frozen and stuck to the windshield.

Learn More About Identifying Winter Car Problems

Now that you know some of the major winter car problems to look for, you can take steps to avoid them. This will ensure your car components work as intended to keep you safe out on the road.

At East Coast Toyota, we aim to match customers with the perfect car for their driving needs and budget. We pride ourselves on superior customer service and the best new and used car prices in northern New Jersey. Take a look at our extensive online inventory or reach out to us today for assistance.

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