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Three ways the cold impacts our cars

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Three ways the cold impacts our cars

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With winter here in Canada in full swing and New York seeing the lowest temperatures in years, now is a good time to discuss how the cold affects our cars. Here up north, we are used to dealing with the cold and it is second nature for many of us. That isn’t true for everyone though, certainly not if our service bays are anything to go by!

So how does the cold affect our cars?

Thicker oil
Motor oil thickens the lower the temperature becomes. Standard motor oils can take a while to warm up and provide the protection necessary to keep your engine running smoothly. Both diesel and gasoline powered vehicles need to be run until fully warm to enable the oil to offer full protection, to burn off any deposits within the oil and to fully liquidize.

Using a lower viscosity oil in winter or switching to synthetic motor oil can offset this. Also, not driving short distances where your engine doesn’t have a chance to fully warm up can help. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend specific winter oils for really cold temperatures. Check your manual for see if yours is one of them.

Slow starting
As far as cars have come, battery technology is still way behind. Batteries do not like the cold and may become slow or low powered if the temperatures drop too low. If you don’t have the luxury of a garage, keep a trickle charger on hand to keep the battery charged. If you’re using a battery older than two or three years, consider changing it for a newer version and keep a pair of jump leads in the car with you at all times.

A quick check of battery condition, connections and charge should be part of your winter maintenance routine and should spot any potential issues before they become real problems.

Low tire pressure
Cold air has a lower pressure than warm air, which is how barometers can tell you what the weather will be like that day. This has an obvious impact on tires. If you keep your tires inflated to the correct pressure, a slight drop in pressure should not matter all that much. If you do not regularly check tire pressure, you may find they become underinflated when the temperature drops.

Underinflated tires can make the car feel sluggish, cause gas mileage to increase and may impact steering. It will definitely increase tire wear. A check once a week as part of your routine should ensure everything is as it should be.

If you have any issues with your car this winter, the team here at Car Nation Canada will be only too pleased to help. Book it in to your nearest Car Nation Canada location and we can make sure your vehicle is ready for winter. It’s all part of the service!

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