What Effects the Cold Weather Has on Your Engine

by autoshopit.com on 12/03/2010 - 08:58 am | 0 Comment

Tags: Driving Tips

It looks like the cold weather is finally here, and here to stay.  As the weather drops below zero it is useful to understand how the cold weather can affect your engine.  If you are capable of doing the inspection yourself you can simply pop the hood and get started; however if you are not so experienced with car maintenance we advice that you take it in to your local mechanic to have the engine looked after.  

There are a couple main areas of the engine that can be affected by the cold weather.  

  • Battery – Cold weather makes it harder to start your engine, beginning with the battery. While batteries are designed to function in cold weather, there is nothing worse than having your battery die on you and have to wait for a friend or CAA to jump start your car.  You can have your battery checked in advance to prevent this from happening.  
  • Tune Up – Usually a complete tune-up should be performed every year or two when the weather gets cold, again, depending on manufacturer’s recommendations, climate, and driving conditions. Your complete tune-up should include, at a minimum, spark plugs and wires, distributor cap and rotor, and other components as necessary, such as a new ignition control module.
  • Engine Oil and Filter – Check the engine oil level and condition. In cold weather, too thick an engine oil can cause hard starting. Check the owner’s manual for your vehicle and follow the recommendations for cold weather. Depending on climate, a different viscosity motor oil may be needed, such as a 0W-20, 5W-20, or 5W-30.
  • Fuel System – When cold weather arrives, adding a container of fuel-line anti-freeze is usually a good idea, especially for sub-zero temperatures. Change the fuel filter at least every 12 months or every 16,000 km, whichever comes first.
  • Antifreeze – Cold weather can wreak havoc on your antifreeze and cooling system if not properly checked and maintained. Check the condition of the antifreeze with a hydrometer. Always use a good quality, proper type of antifreeze, specifically rated for your climate. If any water is needed with your antifreeze, best results are obtained with distilled water, as it is free of minerals and other items that can cause harmful deposits to your cooling system.
  • Belts – Cold weather and under hood temperatures can adversely affect the belt or belts that operate the water pump, cooling fan, alternator, air conditioner and power steering pump need to be checked. If you notice that any belt is cracked, frayed, shredded, or otherwise suspect, replace it and properly set the tension.

Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By taking your car in to perform proper maintenance regularly, you are saving time and money in the long run and avoiding the chance of getting stuck on the road out in the cold.  


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