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7 Mechanic Tips on Protecting Your Car from the Cold

How does cold weather impact your vehicle? What can you do to protect your car from the winter season? As the temperatures continue to drop, you may begin to notice signs of your vehicle struggling. The cold weather can challenge your vehicle from all angles. The local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here to help with 7 cold weather car tips and services.

1) Maintain Your Recommended Oil Change Schedule

Oil changes are essential year-round, but they are especially important during the colder months. The cold weather makes your oil and other engine fluids move more slowly, which requires your vehicle to work harder to operate. Dirty, contaminated, and depleted engine oil can substantially enhance this stress. Double-check to ensure you are on track with your manufacturer-recommended oil change schedule. If you are close to needing an oil change, it might even be worth getting this service a little early to safeguard your car against wintery weather. 

2) Watch Out For Your Battery

While the cold weather does not damage your battery, it can deplete your battery’s charge. Combined with the fact that your vehicle requires an extra surge of power to start due to slow-moving engine oil, battery failure can leave drivers stranded in the winter. You can prevent battery troubles by ensuring your terminal ends are clean and preserving battery life, when possible. This includes unplugging chargers and turning off your lights when the vehicle is not running. You can also get a battery replacement at the first signs of a dying car battery. 

3) Park in the Garage

Naturally, the temperatures get colder after the sun sets—making this the most vulnerable time for your vehicle. You can help keep your car protected by parking in an enclosed garage each night. While most garages are not climate-controlled, they can insulate your car while keeping away the frost—with the added bonus of keeping morning ice off of your windshield. Just be sure to open your overhead garage door before starting your engine to avoid exhaust venting into your home and car. 

4) Keep an Eye on Tire Tire Pressure

When the temperatures drop, the air inside your tires compresses. Low tire pressure can lead to a wide range of troubles, including:

  • Decreased fuel efficiency
  • Poor vehicle handling
  • Increased risks of tire sidewall damage 
  • Enhanced and uneven tire wear

By ensuring you maintain the recommended pressure (as indicated on your tire information panel), you can help keep your tires protected. You can often even score a free tire pressure refill from a local mechanic shop.

5) Check-in on Your Radiator, Belts, and Hoses

One lesser-known risk of cold weather is the damage it can cause your radiator, belts, and hoses. Radiator fluid is a mixture between antifreeze and water. While antifreeze has an impressive freezing point of -36℉ (hence the name), water has a freezing point of 32℉. As such, your radiator fluid is susceptible to partial freezing during cold winter nights. This is especially true if your fluid is old, contaminated, or depleted. A radiator fluid flush can help keep your radiator protected. A mechanic will also check its supporting components—including the belts and hoses—for signs of wear.

6) Complete Tire Tread Checks

When the roads accumulate snow and ice, your tires will have to be extra responsive to keep you safe. To keep you and your vehicle protected, you will want to ensure that your tires have at least 2/32 of an inch of tread. You can read our guide to checking tire tread depth here. It is also necessary to keep an eye out for uneven tread wear and signs of rubber rot. 

7) Headlight Bulb Checks and Restoration Services

The cold, dark winter days and nights will put your headlights to the test. Double-check to ensure your headlights are bright and functioning properly. You may need a simple bulb replacement if you notice one of your headlights dim or burnt-out. If your headlights are dim or yellowing, this could be a sign of oxidized lenses. A headlight restoration service can repair this issue to keep you safe on the road during the darkest days of the year. 

Winter Car Care from Chapel Hill Tire

You can get the winter car care you need without ever stepping foot in a mechanic’s office with Chapel Hill Tire’s pick-up and delivery services. We invite you to make your appointment here online or give us a call today to get started! Chapel Hill Tire proudly serves the greater Triangle area with 9 locations across Raleigh, Apex, Durham, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill. We also serve surrounding communities, including Wake Forest, Cary, Pittsboro, Morrisville, Hillsborough, and beyond! Save time and trouble this holiday season when you Drive Happy with Chapel Hill Tire.

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