4 Winter Car Repairs to Make Before the First Snow Falls

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Winter’s cold weather will wreak havoc on vehicles. Liquids will thicken, causing leaks and making it harder for a vehicle’s engine to operate properly. Owners should prepare for winter weather by making necessary repairs and scheduling maintenance before the first snowfall.

Repairs and maintenance to make before the first snowfall include:

1. Cooling System Flushes

Cooling systems should be flushed and refilled before the cold weather kicks in. The mixture of antifreeze-to-water is the most crucial reason for a cooling system flush. A 50-50 mixture is the go-to for most vehicles, but in extreme cold, 40% water to 60% antifreeze may be recommended.

2. Repair Those Cracked Windshields

Cracked windshields need to be repaired. The cold weather increases the risk of a chip spreading and causing a long crack. Failing to make a windshield repair increases the risk of a crack growing by 60% in 32-degree weather and 80% when temperatures dip to 14 degrees or lower.

Cold weather causes water to freeze in the cracks. There is also a risk of increased stress put on the windshield in the cold weather.

Mobile repair services can apply resin to most cracks, under a quarter in size, and have the windshield repaired in 20 minutes or less. Insurance companies will usually repair chipped windshields as part of a policyholder’s policy.

3. Hoses and Small Leaks

Old hoses will crack and rot. The hose will weaken due to the expansion and contraction of the hose from hot and cold weather respectively. Rubber is meant to be heat-resistant, but hoses will contract when the engine is off and cools.

Extreme flexing of the hose will occur during the winter months, leading to internal structural damage of the hose and small crack formation.

Regular hose inspections are recommended. Replace any hoses that are worn. Water pumps and engine coolants are the most common sources of leaks in the winter. Leaks do not repair themselves and only get worse over time.

4. Car Battery

Car batteries that struggle to turn over during the warm summer months often die in the winter. Cold weather causes batteries to lose their charge. There’s a lot of science that explains why batteries deplete in the cold weather.

Extreme weather, both hot and cold, is the culprit.

Lead acid battery capacity falls 20% in freezing temperatures and as much as 50% when at -22 degrees. High temperatures increase battery capacity. Three factors contribute to a battery dying in the winter:

  1. Lower capacity makes it more difficult to start a vehicle.
  2. Starter motors require a greater power draw to turn the car over.
  3. Accessories in the vehicle will require an increase in power draw.

Winter weather also causes the vehicle to use more power. Headlights and wiper usage increases, causing the battery to drain further. Batteries that are already having issues turning over the vehicle need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Fluids and filters should additionally be checked and replaced as necessary. Any maintenance recommendations, found in the owner’s manual, should be scheduled.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.