The Five Most Common (And Avoidable) Causes of Winter Car Breakdowns

Driving in the winter requires special skills, training, and enhanced awareness. Your visibility is lower, and there are unexpected road conditions you must look out for. However, most breakdowns in the winter are simply caused by the lack of maintenance and attention. If you keep your regular schedule of checkups, you can prevent being stuck on the side of the road for hours, waiting for recovery in a cold vehicle. Find out more about the most common winter breakdowns below.

1. Choosing the Right Fuel And Oil for the Winter

Not many drivers know that there is a difference between winter and summer gas, and choosing the right fuel and oil can improve your efficiency, while preventing the build up of residue. You might simply get a treatment mixed with your oil, so you can make the most out of your car’s performance in cold weather, or talk to a specialist about your additive options.

2. Keeping an Eye On Your Batteries

Your car batteries are used more during the winter. You will need the heater, windshield wiper, and headlights going during the majority of your journeys. Before the cold weather arrives, get your battery tested to make sure it will last you. If it needs replacing, always choose a quality car battery that is designed for your make and model, and comes with a guarantee.

3. Tire Changes and Checks

In some areas, you will need to get a separate set of winter tires, and get them installed for the cold months. However, if this is not a legal requirement, and you have all-weather tires, you need to keep an eye on their performance. Check the threading depth, and make sure that there are no visible signs of damage or wear. Uneven wear on your tires can be an indication that your tracking needs to be checked by a mechanic, or your brakes are not working properly.

4. Brake Pads and Shoes

It is not easy to diagnose the different problems with your brake pads and shoes, but if you hear an unusual or strange noise when you break, it is time to visit your mechanic. A squeaking noise can indicate that you need new brake pads and shoes. This repair will cost you much less than being involved in an accident due to not being able to stop.

5. Spark Plugs

Replacing your spark plugs is of the cheapest replacement you can have on your car, but a failing plug can cause your car not to start, or misfire. You can inspect your spark plugs yourself, and clean them to see if this makes a difference, or simply get them replaced by a professional at a low cost.

Just because it is cold and wet outside, life doesn’t stop. If you are planning a winter break, or have to use your car regularly to commute to work, make sure that you get your car checked by a professional. Inspect your tires and test your batteries before every long journey, so you can avoid some of the most common causes of winter breakdowns.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.