Car parts that are more likely to break in the winter can cause frustrating issues on cold, snowy mornings. Or worse, they could leave you stranded. If you live where it gets cold, then now is the time to prepare so you can be ready if those parts and systems fail.
Of the car parts that are more likely to break in the winter, your car battery is at the top of the list. It’s a good idea to have your battery tested to ensure that it’s still operable and to replace it if there are signs of trouble. You can also help prevent your battery from failing during cold weather by parking your car in a garage when you can.
Tire Pressure Problems
Tires are another area of concern when temperatures drop. If you think back to your high school science classes, you’ll likely recall how most matter expands when it’s heated and contracts when it’s cooled. This includes the air in your tires.
The first cold morning of the year might cause the low tire pressure warning light to illuminate on your dashboard. It’s not safe to drive with an under-inflated tire, so be sure to air up as needed. Even if the light doesn’t come on, check your tire pressure periodically throughout the winter just to be sure.
Frozen Wiper Blades
When your windshield ices over, it can lock up your wipers. If you turn them on when they’re stuck, they could tear themselves free and damage the blade in the process. Avoid this damage by checking whether your wipers can move freely before you drive away. Consider buying winter wiper blades designed to hold up to the rigors of winter weather. Finally, if you’re expecting winter weather, use the hinge on the wiper arm to lift the blades up off the glass, preventing them from getting frozen in place.
Broken Door Handles
Every year, countless people grab their car’s door handle only to have it snap off in their hand. Snow, ice and just plain cold all make plastics and metals brittle, leading to unexpected breaks. This is especially true if your whole door is frozen shut and you’re yanking on that handle for all it’s worth. Never fear — you can get a replacement door handle so you won’t have to crawl in through the passenger side all winter.
The cold weather also makes the fluids in your car thicken, which means they won’t lubricate as well when you first start your engine. Warming up your car for a bit before you get moving can help ensure that critical liquids, such as oil, power steering fluid and brake fluid, are flowing smoothly. Be sure to have your fluid levels checked at the start of the winter season too, and have them topped off as needed.
The salt that makes the snow and ice on the road melt is harsh on your car’s metal parts. It accelerates corrosion, which you might not even be able to see, especially if it’s happening to the undercarriage. Wash your car regularly to get rid of salt buildup, and pay the extra few dollars for the undercarriage wash to avoid costly repairs later and extend the overall life of the vehicle.
Car parts that are more likely to break in the winter can be frustrating, but regular maintenance and careful attention can prevent issues with these components before they arise.
Check out all the winter weather products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about prepping your vehicle for winter, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy Flickr.
Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.