The last thing anyone needs when they’re out and about in winter is unexpected car trouble. But cold weather is known to cause all kinds of problems (often the type you can’t see), from tyre issues to a flat battery. Here are some common car problems in winter and how you can avoid them.
One of the most common vehicle problems that occurs in winter is deflated tyres. As temperatures drop, so can tyre pressure, so it’s a good idea to check them regularly and keep them at the pressure recommended by the manufacturer. Under-inflated tyres can overheat, and in the worst cases burst, so ensure yours are at the correct level, particularly before any long journeys.
Another common car problem in winter is linked to the viscosity of the fluids. In cold temperatures, fluids become thicker and more viscous, which can lead to tears in internal seals. The obvious solution is to ensure that fluids are changed regularly, but to help in the short term you can start your car a few minutes before you’re due to drive it. This will heat and thin out the fluids, enabling them to work more efficiently.
Among the most common car breakdown problems is worn or cracked spark plugs. Not only do these reduce the fuel economy of your vehicle, they can also prevent you from starting up completely – not ideal when you’re about to start the journey home on a freezing night. Take your car into your local service centre to get the spark plugs checked before the worst of the weather sets in.
Windscreen wipers can freeze to the windscreen in frosty or icy weather, meaning they can get torn or broken if you try to use them. The best thing to do when wipers have frozen is to heat the front and rear windscreens, allowing any ice or snow to melt before attempting to use the wipers. Remember to set them to manual to prevent them from trying to start when you turn on the ignition too. Another option is to invest in winter wiper blades, which are specially made for cold conditions.
The cold can cause car batteries to become weakened, as it slows the chemical processes that occur within. Not only that, additional time with the headlights, heaters and the stereo on uses up voltage, meaning the risk of a flat battery is increased.
To help prevent this, ensure you make some longer journeys during the cold months, allowing the battery to recharge itself. Also, try not to use the USB or 12V supply to charge electronic devices as this will sap energy. There’s no harm in taking your vehicle to a service centre for a winter health check too, as this will flag up any potential battery problems well in advance.