Annoying Winter Car Problems and How to Combat Them

The winter brings magical snow-blanketed landscapes, warm beverages by a cozy fire and a whole lot of trouble. During the winter months you’re more likely to catch a cold or the flu. You could also be among the 10.5 million people in the U.S. who have seasonal affective disorder and feel a little glum because there’s less sunlight in the winter. And here’s a grim CDC statistic: the months with the most deaths are January, February and December. 

Unfortunately, it’s not just your own safety that’s at risk in colder temps. While winter isn’t the most dangerous season on the road (that distinction goes to the summer), your car can also experience a range of troubles with any incoming cold front. It’s important to be aware of what’s happening under the hood and around the body of your car so you’re prepared to fix it - in the frigid cold weather, no less. 

Time to get prepared for the road in the cold!

Top 3 Winter Car Problems & Their Solutions

#1: Dying Battery

The reason why your car battery is more likely to die in the wintertime is because the colder season requires more demand on the system. Think about the additional headlight time and running of the car engine to get the car warmed up. Not the mention the heater takes up more power than air conditioning. 

A typical car battery can last about three years, but that’s in optimal weather conditions. Extreme cold can pull voltage from your battery prematurely. Anything below 30-90 degrees Fahrenheit can give you trouble. 

The Solution: Get Your Car Out of the Elements

The best strategy here is to keep your car in a garage to avoid freezing conditions. Also, have your battery checked before going into colder months to make sure it’s in good health.

Winter Car Problem #2: Reduced Tire Pressure

For every 10 degrees that the temperature drops, most tires lose one pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure. When you drive on tires with low pressure, the tread begins to bald (i.e. lose traction), making it more slippery on the road. When the roads are already icy less traction on your tires is very dangerous.

The Solution: Regularly Check the Pressure and Add Air if Needed

Since low traction plus snow and ice on the roads make for a poor combination, it’s best to keep an eye on your tires during the winter season and make sure their pressure levels are where they need to be. You can find the recommended PSI for the tires in your vehicle’s owners manual and listed on the inside of the driver’s door. 

If you find that your tires are in poor condition in the warmer months, it might be time to invest in some new ones before the snow hits. Instead of getting all-weather tires you may want to consider getting a set of winter tires that can be swapped out when the snow starts to fall. 

Winter Car Problem #3: Broken Wipers

Freezing temps can do a lot of harm to your delicate windshield wipers, like causing them to freeze to the windshield or become cracked. Build up on the windshield can also be a problem. Forcing wipers to plow through a snow-filled, icey window can break them instantly. 

When the weather is inclement the windshield wipers become an important piece of safety equipment. During the winter it’s best not to risk driving without workable wipers because the lack of sunlight and cold already make driving more difficult.

The Solution: Clean the Windshields Before Wiping

The easiest way to ensure your wipers are in good working condition is to clean the windshield before you get going down the road. That way there’s less resistance with each wipe. You can also set the heater and fan controls on defrost and high before turning on the car to clear ice off the windshield. 

The weather can really throw a curveball into your car routine, hitting places you didn’t know existed. A cracked alternator belt, thickening transmission fluid and a weakening spark plug are also common consequences to the winter months. 

To play it safe, we recommend finding some roadside assistance to help you when something goes wrong and you can’t figure it out for yourself. When you sign up for an Aceable online drivers ed course, you get 1 Free Month of AllState Roadside Assistance!

*This article was updated on 2/11/21

Krista Doyle