5 Ways extreme cold can effect your car

Protecting your vehicle, and your wallet, in extreme cold.

In Canada, temperatures can get pretty cold, so cold, that knowing how to properly prepare, care and upkeep your car is extremely important at negative temperatures.

I recently learned this the hard way. A few mornings ago  I was getting into my 2009 Mazda Tribute (the sister car to the Ford Escape) to go to work and the door was frozen, I knew it was cold but did not foresee this happening. A few gentle pulls of the handle and I was in, crisis averted.  I started the car, cranked the heat and started the defroster.  I retrieved my snow brush from the back seat and began brushing off the snow, making sure to fully clear the lights, windows, license plates etc.

As I finished clearing all of the snow from the roof, wheel wells and around the wipers, I went to the back of the car to toss my snow brush in the truck.  I popped the liftgate window, only to find it, like the door, frozen.  Thinking it was no big deal, I gently pulled on the handle to pry the window open.  Disaster.  The left hinge holding the window in place snapped in 2, the window was now hanging. The worn hinges couldnt sustain the cold and gave in, with a few pulls.

As i called around and finally got my window repaired, I knew that I needed to take better precaution and care of my vehicle when extreme temperatures hit!  So without further ado, here are 5 extreme cold weather tips to protect your vehicle!

1.  Wipers and Wiper Fluid

Fill your wiper fluid and check your wipers.  The ability to see the road and other vehicles are very important, but winter conditions can limit visibility. If your wipers are worn or covered in ice, it won’t clear the snow, and it’s only going to get worse with the freeze. Investing in winter wipers, ones that won’t freeze and deflect ice build up are a great investment to avoid problems later.  You also want to make sure your wiper fluid is full to avoid the lines from freezing. Always keep a jug in the trunk, especially during winter months.

2.  Tire Pressure

Running on low tire pressure can lead tire damage and possibly cause you to lose control of your vehicle.  When extreme cold hits, your tires are affected and the pressure can drop.  One way to prevent this is to run it two or three PSI above the recommended specifications and that should prevent any issues.  Always check your tire pressure before long road trips as part of your routine circle check.

3.  Car Wash

When rain, slush, dirt, salt, and ice builds it leaves harmful deposits.  This is a breeding ground for rust, which will eat away affect your car’s finish, and undercarriage.

By getting your car washed at least once a month during winter, you can reduce the amount of wear and tear these harmful elements have on your car, stopping rust in its tracks.  Make sure you use a car wash that cleans the underneath of the car as well.

4.  Check your battery

Winter weather can either mask or magnify existing problems and places an added strain on some critical components – especially your battery, which can lose as much as half its power in extremely cold conditions.  If you haven’t started your car in awhile the battery may need a charge before starting.

5.  A proper emergency kit

Having a proper emergency kit in your trunk is something you should have all year round.  Having a winter specific kit is even more important.  You never think it will happen to you until it does.  Being stuck in the snow, and surrounded by a blizzard can be terrifying.  Having a well thought out emergency kit can be the difference.  For more on what you should put into a winter emergency kit, watch this!