How Cold Affects Your Car

This month in ask Jon, I will be talking about the sharp influx of vehicles in for service due to the January cold snap.  My hope with this column is to help people understand what causes reliability issues in their vehicles. More specifically in the winter. The cold has a grand effect on many vehicles. Our lot on some of the worst days is a parade of tow trucks. Obviously the most common issue is batter- ies. As a battery gets older it loses its ability to hold a charge and have a strong cold cranking capability. For the most part my observa- tion is the average reliable battery life span is around five years. If a battery sits in extreme cold with a low charge chance are it will freeze. If a battery is dead in the cold, it will positively freeze. A frozen battery has no chance of starting an engine or even being jump started. This leads to a battery replacement on the spot or a ride on a tow truck. In some cases, the battery can be slowly warmed to thaw and recharged. Keeping in mind it has to be thawed before attempting to recharge. But still in this case the cause of the issue would need to be properly diagnosed to be sure it doesn’t reoccur. As a side note, I don’t know of any service center that would charge a customer just to test a battery.

Issue number two is your common “no start”. The popular cause of this is a lack of maintenance. When the engine is started in the cold the computer system feeds more fuel to help the engine and catalytic converters to heat up more quickly. With worn items such as spark plugs, ignition wires and even air filters it makes it more difficult for the systems to burn the added fuel. In some cases, this leads to flooded engines and no start conditions. Some other reoccurring issues are; broken or torn wiper blades, mostly from ice scrapers and pulling the wiper blades off the windshield when they are frozen. Frozen washer fluid. Yes, this happens. Some of the cost-effective washer fluids on the market are great in the summer. They however have a poor cold temp freezing point. It is always a good idea to go with a de-icer style washer fluid in the winter. It contributes to safer visibility and has a very good freeze rating. Take care of your car. Be ready for seasonal changes and don’t be a “tow in”! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at the address below. And always stop by Garry’s service center and say hello!!

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