Cold Weather Tips and Advice FAQs

Cold Weather Tips

Information to help car, truck, van, and SUV owners avoid the inconvenience and expense of preventable problems associated with operating vehicles in colder climates and identified as such by OEM recommended scheduled maintenance guidelines
Includes auto repairs and preventive maintenance advice that can help reduce the overall cost to operate a vehicle

What can happen if I allow my fuel tank level to drop below ¼ full?

In winter weather conditions, condensation can form in a vehicle’s gas tank. As gasoline floats on water, this moisture moves to the bottom of the tank where it can freeze. With this ice blocking the fuel outlet from the tank, your car will not start.

How can I extend the life of my wiper blades in freezing weather?
Be sure to turn your wipers off before shutting your car off. Failure to do this means the wipers will be on the next time you start the vehicle. Wiper blades that are frozen to the windshield can be bent or torn unless freed from the windshield before starting the vehicle. Remember, be sure the wiper arms move freely before starting your car to warm it while you scrap ice from the windshield.

How does the traction control work on my car?
When you accelerate from a stop on icy roads and the drive wheels slip, the computer will do one or more things to reduce the slip:

  • Reduce power from the engine
  • Shift your transmission into 2nd or 3rd gear
  • Apply the brakes to the wheel that is slipping

The purpose of the traction control system is to allow you to slowly accelerate on ice. You may find at times you don’t want that function to work. In these cases there is usually a button to turn off the traction control system manually.

Why is timing belt maintenance important in the winter?
If the belt has oil on it or is weak due to wear because it should have been replaced, it is more likely to slip. When temperatures are cold, engine oil has a thicker consistency and the timing belt has a harder time turning the camshafts. Under these conditions, a belt is most likely to slip.

What can happen if my timing belt slips?
Some engines are called “interference engines”. If the timing belt slips in this type of engine, the valves in the cylinder head are hit by the piston when it comes up and the engine is out of time. This bends the valves and requires removal of the cylinder head and valve replacement to repair the damage.

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