Cold-weather car-care tips

Ken Coleman
Posted at 7:14 PM, Dec 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-23 21:16:46-05

GREAT FALLS — Temperatures may be on the rise, but that doesn’t mean cold snaps dipping into the negatives won’t be back. For car owners, these extreme dips can be trouble for their vehicle. Luckily, there are a few tips owners can take to make sure they keep running smoothly.

  1. Make sure you’re using the proper coolant for the vehicle. A quality coolant will run effectively until the outside temperature dips to -40 F. If using the wrong coolant, any cold temps can severely damage the engine of your car.
  2. You don’t need to obsess over letting your car idle before driving unless it’s REALLY cold. According to ASE Certified Master Technician, Ken Coleman, the engine in your car should be good to go from the jump if the temperature is above 0 F. Once the negatives come around, it’s important to let the car warm up a bit to allow the oil to thin out. 
  3. A block heater is a key piece of equipment which allows the car engine to stay warm even while it’s parked.
  4. Obviously, tire pressure will decrease as it gets colder. It’s important to get the tire’s pressurized while they’re STILL COLD. Ken Coleman says, “If you get the tires filled in the shop where it’s 70 degrees, the pressures going to dip four, five, six, seven points once you get outside.” If you get your tire’s serviced while they’re cold this will allow the added pressure to accurately acclimate itself.
  5. Hazard lights are much more prevalent during the winter. Just because your “Check Engine” light comes on doesn’t mean your engine is compromised. Same goes for any other component under the hood. “A waning battery can set off misfires and erroneous codes that don’t really mean anything, it just means your battery is low,” says Coleman. If you see one of these lights turn on, have your battery tested/charged. If the lights stay on, talk to a mechanic.
  6. Finally, it’s ever important to keep on top of your fluids, especially during the cold-season. “Clean oil gets sludgy, dirty oil, turns into a brick,” says Coleman. If you wait to get a service change, the already dirty fluids will wreak havoc on the inside of the car when it gets cold.