How Winter In West Michigan Can Damage Your Car

Preventing Your Car From Being Damaged During The Winter

December 2,2014

winter car damageBad weather is hard on your car and in Michigan comes with plenty of bad weather and road complications. The salt used on the roads to keep us all from slipping and sliding can eat the paint on your car’s body and corrode its undercarriage.  Driving over poor roads that are gutted by potholes can wreck your tires and struts. And, of course, there are the crashes that result from driving on icy roads. Do you know what happens to your car as the cold approaches?

First of all, even in “warmer” temperatures, most tires lose one to two pounds of pressure per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the mercury dips. Air is a gas and contracts when it gets colder. This means that even if you check the pressure in your tires scrupulously in the fall to make sure they are adequately and evenly inflated, they will be less inflated once winter comes, simply because it is colder and the air is taking up less space. You need to regularly check inflation levels in winter to make sure your tires are still good enough to drive on. It’s not just a mileage issue; soft tires and snowy roads make for a dangerous combination.

Below 35 degrees Fahrenheit, transmission fluid thickens. Actually all the fluids in your car will thicken in the cold, but you need a working transmission if you want your car to move, and sluggish transmission fluid will hamper that greatly.

Colder temperatures also weaken a car’s battery. Newer batteries will be less vulnerable to temperature fluctuations, but below 30 degrees, any battery starts to be affected because cold pulls the voltage out.

And then there is your windshield. At just the time you need your windshield fluid and your wipers to work to clear the glass of all the salt and dirt that comes off the tires of other cars, they fail you. Cold is hard on the rubber of your wipers, and they can deteriorate easily. The pressure from snow and ice can break or bend them as well. And you can’t drive if you can’t see.

All of the above problems can be addressed by a little monitoring and preparation. If you give yourself extra time before you have to drive to warm your engine up and clear your windshield, it will be easier and safer to drive your car. Check the strength of your battery before extreme cold hits – check your tire pressure regularly too – and you will avoid unpleasant surprises.

It looks like winter may be gearing up to start early this year. If you’d like an extra set of eyes on your car to make sure it’s ready for the winter, Veenstra’s Garage would be happy to go over it with you and make any necessary recommendations. Just call us. We can help.