Since most of the country hit record-breaking cold temperatures a few days ago due to the Polar Vortex, you still might be feeling the chill. What most people don’t realize is that when the temperature drops so much you should be aware that your car and vehicle can be affected in negative ways. We complied these tips for dealing with the extreme cold winter driving whether there is a Polar Vortex (or you just live in Canada.)
Check your Battery
When it gets really cold there is a possibility your battery can freeze. This is usually when temperatures hover around 0 degrees Fahrenheit and you don’t keep your car in a garage. Needless to say if your battery is frozen your car won’t start or work. It’s good to go check your battery and start your car and let it run for awhile to keep the battery from freezing. (At least that is what I did during the Polar Vortex.)
There are some ways to fix a frozen auto battery. Watch my video “How to Replace a Car Battery” if you don’t know how to remove a auto battery and bring your battery inside to thaw. You should also use a battery maintainer to slowly bring up the charge of the battery. (A battery maintainer is also useful if your battery is not frozen but dead. You can sometimes slowly bring back the charge and life of the battery.)
If this doesn’t work, you can try to put the battery in the oven. Sound crazy but I’ve heard this does work but is obviously extremely dangerous. I’ve never done this but it’s a thing people will do in Northern States and Canada.
Warm your Car Up
Warm up your vehicle before driving anywhere. I’d recommend at least 1 minute or more. (In temperatures like the Polar Vortex you might want to wait 5 minutes.) When it’s cold it takes awhile to get motor oil moving through the engine and everything to work properly.
Keep a Winter Survival Kit
It’s not a bad idea to keep a winter survival kit in your car for emergencies. What’s good to have?
- Spare Tire with a working Emergency Scissor Jack
- Small but durable LED Flashlight
- Warm Blanket
- Sand or kitty litter or traction mats for when you’re stuck in the snow
Gas Tank Half Full
Keep your gas tank at least half full so you do not need to worry about frozen gas lines or getting stuck somewhere. This mostly is only an issue if you live in states such as Wyoming, where Aaron lives.
Check your Coolant
Your battery can freeze in a Polar Vortex but so you can you coolant in your radiator if there is too much water in there. This is bad since a frozen coolant in a radiator can crack it meaning you would need to replace it. Worst of all too much water or too little antifreeze can lead to a crack in your engine block too, meaning an engine replacement or rebuild. Your mechanic then can make the payments on his second house.
Don’t use the Parking Brake
Sometimes, but not often, a parking brake can freeze into place. If you are someone that engages it when you park your car (a lot of people don’t) I’d encourage not using it in extremely cold temperatures. It can freeze in the “On” position, making it hard for you to drive.