woman brushing snow off car in cold weather

The New England area continues to be battered by snow and ice this winter. In Rhode Island, wind chills have frequently plummeted temperatures to 15 degrees below zero. While, many of us can readily recognize this sort of weather poses a hazard to driving as well as cause problems for vehicles, the reality is that daily activities still need to get done.

This includes heading to work, taking children to their schools, getting groceries etc. When we sit in our ice-covered cars, it may feel like an eternity before it warms up and you may wonder how this extreme cold weather might affect your car.

There is no question that as the temperature drops, so do your car’s chances of functioning properly. Here are five problems all of us need to watch out for this winter:

  • car battery that is dead from cold weatherDead Battery: It’s important that you get your car’s battery tested. In this cold weather, your battery may go out suddenly and leave you stranded. If you have a garage, keep your car inside the garage. However, if you don’t have access to a garage, it is crucial to check the health of your car’s battery before the cold weather arrives. Typically, a car battery lasts an average of three years and can handle the cold. But extreme cold drains voltage from the battery making it more difficult for your car to start.
  • Thickening fluids: It’s critical to check all of your vehicle’s fluids including oil, brake, transmission, antifreeze and power steering. When it is really cold outside fluids tend to thicken in your vehicle and this makes it harder for the car to get the fluids it requires to run properly. If your car’s fluids thicken and don’t flow quickly, then your car won’t function properly.
  • Tire pressure: Cold air will most likely take a toll on your tire pressure. Most tires lose about one pound per square inch for every 10-degree temperature drop. So, you need to keep checking inflation as it gets colder. Under-inflated tires will not perform well and may become damaged or fail especially in snowy and icy conditions. Tire failure may result in the vehicle going out of control and crashing. Also, a new winter tire is ideal for winter use. Remember, in deep snow a half-worn winter tire performs better than a new all-season or summer tire.
  • frozen windshield from cold weatherWipers and washer solvent: Make sure to clean your vehicle’s windshield before turning on your wipers. A number of issues with windshield wipers arise because they are not cleaned first before being turned on. Blades may get torn and wiper parts may break due to the extreme winter weather that drops temperatures to below the freezing point of the washer fluid.
  • Spark plug problems: A bad spark plug, ignition component or clogged filter may cause your vehicle not to start or to stall while in operation. When the temperatures drop, your spark plug may become less reliable.

Knowing what types of problems you may have with your vehicle can help you be better prepared for another rough Rhode Island winter. It can also help you prevent auto accidents due to mechanical or vehicle part failure.