Text size


The ways winter can affect your car that you didn’t know about

The ways winter can affect your car that you didn’t know about


Winter weather is in full swing now — and we all know that it can cause chaos on our roads.

The ice warnings are out, gritters are everywhere and there’s always that one person driving around with a completely frozen up windscreen still.

One side of motoring in winter that’s often forgotten is the damage the weather itself can potentially do to a car, though. We’ve highlighted what to look out for, and how you can combat the perils colder months bring.

Road salt

While modern cars tend to be kitted out with plenty of anti-corrosion coating, road salt can still wreck havoc on the exposed metals underneath cars over a long period of time.

Gritter spreading salt on the roadsIt’s simple chemistry — the salt reacts with the metals, most commonly on suspension and chassis components, resulting in rust forming. This is a problem commonly associated with older and imported vehicles, but can affect any machine on the road if not kept under control. A rinse underneath a car every so often can help combat the issue.

Reduced engine temperatures

In cold months, it will take longer for your car’s engine and the various fluids within it to reach an optimal temperature. It’s important to be aware of this and adapt your driving style until the powertrain warms up.

Car Engine Oil is the key component. If it’s cold out overnight, the ability for it to flow will be heavily reduced on a cold start. Putting the engine under heavy loads too early will be akin to running it without any form of lubrication in this case, potentially damaging key components. Give it a couple of minutes to warm up before setting off, and keeps revs low for the first 10-15 minutes of your journey.

Batteries aren’t as effective/more load on them

That’s right — when you need your battery the most, that’s the time when it works the least effectively. Cold temperatures wreak havoc on the internal chemistry of a car battery, and the result is reduced capacity during the winter months. Unfortunately, drivers don’t tend to help much — with cold and dark mornings necessitating heating and lighting in equal measures, putting greater strain on the battery.

Car battery warningThat’s why flat batteries are one of the leading reasons for breakdown assistance to be called during the winter months. Want to stay one step ahead? Then make sure you drive your car far enough to charge the battery — try and make at least one journey of 30 miles or more every week. If you’re unable to do this, consider investing in a battery trickle charger to keep things topped up and happy.

Flat Battery

Tyres lose temperature

You may have heard about race cars losing tyre temperatures, but the same can happen with ordinary road cars - particularly when the weather gets chilly. Usual summer tyres can’t operate as effectively in cold weather as their compounds harden up with low temperatures - they simply can’t find as much grip on the tarmac.

Mclaren driving on frosty and snowy roadIt’s why winter or all-season tyres are the better option. They’ve been designed to offer better grip in lower temperatures, making them more effective at bringing a car to a halt, or providing more traction when moving off.

Wipers could be damaged

Ford pick up truck driving through large puddleBefore using your windscreen wipers, it’s always a good idea to clear your screen — otherwise they could be damaged. Wipers are designed to operate directly on glass, clearing typical road debris such as dust, bugs and dirt. Using them directly over frost could cause the rubber to tear and the wipers themselves to be unable to move across the surface — potentially damaging the motors. Make sure your wipers aren’t frozen to the surface of your windscreen and clear off heavy snow before turning them on in order to avoid this.