Ask a Master Mechanic: How Does Winter Affect My Car?
At Master Mechanic, when the temperature begins to drop, we know we’re about to see an increase in the number of customers coming in for unexpected repairs. When winter driving rolls around, it’s important to take the proper preventative measures to make sure your car makes it through the season.
We caught up with a Master Mechanic to find out exactly how winter driving affects your car.
Winter Driving and Vehicle Corrosion
Just like all other metals, the metal in your car compresses and expands as the temperature fluctuates. This can be rough on your car. If that wasn’t enough, the metal body of your car, your tires, and undercarriage are in constant contact with street salt all winter. This is pretty much unavoidable with Canadian driving conditions and leaves your car at higher risk of corroding. The more you drive your car in the winter, the more the salt will accumulate on your undercarriage, wheel wells, and brakes. To avoid corrosion, you’ll want to wash your car about once a month, paying particular attention to the previously mentioned areas. Be sure not to try wiping salt away, as this could damage the paint.
Winter Driving and Tire Pressure
We talked about how cold weather causes the metal in your car to shrink, and the same is true for the air in your tires. When winter temperatures hit, your tire pressure decreases–temporarily. When you begin driving, your car gradually warms up and the air pressure increases again. This constant deflating and inflating, although slight, is exhausting on your tires. This is why you should expect more wear during winter months and should get winter tires that are specially designed to handle fluctuating temperatures.
Winter Driving and Car Batteries
Next to tires, a battery replacement is one of the most common service requests we get at Master Mechanic during winter.
It’s also the most preventable!
Your battery is by far one of the most sensitive parts of your car and frigid winter temperatures certainly aren’t easy on it. As a testament to that, you’ve likely experienced a car that stutters to start on a particularly cold morning.
The easiest way to avoid a dead battery is to ensure it’s in good working condition before winter is in full swing. How? Simply contact your local Master Mechanic to schedule a diagnostic. It’s quick, easy, and will save you a headache later.
Winter Driving and Windshield Wipers
Wipers are typically designed to handle rain, not heavy snow and ice. When your wipers are exposed to winter weather, they usually don’t work as well. When left overnight, it’s common for them to freeze to the windshield. If they’re not cleaned properly, it’s unfortunately also common for them to break when you try to use them.
You’ve likely seen drivers park with their wipers pointing up–and we’re on the fence about this at Master Mechanic. Leaving your wipers up helps prevent them from freezing to your windshield, but it could also put your car at risk. If the forecast calls for extreme winds, you may be better off leaving them down. If too much ice accumulates, a big gust of wind can cause your wiper to crash down and crack your windshield.
Winter Driving and Fuel Consumption
With snow, slush, and ice, the various systems in your car often have to work overtime during winter months. This will undoubtedly increase your fuel consumption and how frequently you need to fill up. It’s not just the weather that impacts your vehicle, but also your driving habits. When you let your car warm up for a few minutes before you pull out of the driveway, you’re using more fuel. When you leave your car running while waiting for a friend, you’re using more fuel. It’s important to be aware of these changes in your driving habits and to budget accordingly.
Proactive Car Maintenance
Winter driving can take a toll on your entire car–not just your tires–but preventative car maintenance can make all the difference. By making sure your car is in tip-top shape before temperatures are consistently in the negative, you can save a lot of money and time later.
Winter is basically here! If you want to make sure your car is ready to handle the harsh winter months ahead, contact your local Master Mechanic ASAP to schedule an appointment!