How the Cold Weather Affects Your Car

The days of 100+ degree temperatures in the summer are long gone; the morning chills you to the bone and there is a thick film of condensation settled onto your car. Some of you might laugh, as a blustery 50 degrees is nothing compared to Flagstaff’s snowy 30s, but the drop can create strain on your vehicle. The sudden cold weather affects your car, no matter how much the temperature drops.

While it’s warmer here in the metro Phoenix area, be sure to prepare your vehicle if you plan on going anywhere colder this winter. Make sure you’re checking your vehicle during the winter to avoid any problems throughout the season.

Winter Car Maintenance

If you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures or plan on driving to an area that does, check your car’s tire pressure and battery level before you leave. 

Tire pressure naturally falls in cooler temperature because cold air contracts. Consult your vehicle’s manual to see what pressure is recommended. Low tire pressure increases the amount of tire that is in contact with the road. As a result, friction is increased, your tires can overheat, and it causes more wear to your tires’ tread. In serious cases, low air pressure can cause a blowout, negatively impacts fuel economy and your ability to handle your car.

In colder temperatures where any water left on the road can ice over, handling is key to safe driving. Low tire pressure reduces grip and responsiveness you need during the winter or to make quick maneuvers to avoid accidents, according to Car and Driver

If you’re driving north, consider adding winter weather rated tires or snow chains, if necessary. 

Cold Weather Affects Car Batteries

Like tires, batteries can lose their charge in colder weather. According to Industrial Battery Products, lead acid battery capacity drops about 20 percent from normal in freezing weather.

Winter driving also stresses your battery, as you are using more power than in the summer due to your windshield wipers, heater, and headlights. While your battery does charge itself when you’re driving, your car may be struggling to keep up with the load. 

In colder weather, starters motor amperage can demand more from your battery, as the motor oil gets thicker when the weather is colder. Thick oil means it is harder for the engine to turn over, thus drawing more amps from your battery. 

Avoid stalling out by keeping an eye on your battery’s charge as the cold weather continues.

Fill Up Your Gas Tank

Though your gas won’t freeze, it’s important to fill up your tank more frequently when it’s colder outside. A full tank of gas means a full tank of heat. 

In addition to your own comfort, a full tank of gas avoids condensation from forming inside the empty gas tank. The condensation can freeze, thus icing your fuel lines and potentially starting no-start conditions. 

Your electric fuel pump needs gasoline to act as a coolant to work properly. When your gas tank is getting low, the pump sucks in air and generates heat. Over time, this can lead to premature wear and tear or failure of your fuel pump. 

Examine Your Car’s Belts and Hoses

Camelback Toyota recommends checking your car’s hoses and belts to prevent problems while driving. Unless the temperature drops below 0F, there is a minimal chance for the cold to damage your car’s belts and hoses. However, misalignment can occur at 40 degrees. 

If your hoses or belts are already damaged, the cold weather can worsen cracks. Run your fingers over them to check for holes or cracks. If you notice anything, get them replaced immediately.

Install New Wiper Blades 

Perhaps the most obvious step for cold weather preparedness is to replace your wiper blades. Visibility is reduced in the winter due to the increased condensation and less daylight. 

Make sure your antifreeze and wiper blade fluid is topped off as well. Cold weather windshield washer fluid is available too. 

Interior Winter Preparation

Your car’s carpet is at risk of being damaged or stained due to the increased precipitation and colder temperatures. If the weather drops below freezing, anything containing liquid inside your car runs the risk of freezing, including any wet spots on your carpet. 

If you’re in an area that salts the road, that salt will end up on your car’s carpet and can stain it overtime. The same can be said for your car seats, door panels, and more. 

VIP European Auto can help with your carpet and seat repair needs. 

Convertible Cars in the Winter

If you drive a convertible, you know they need special care in the winter, especially if you live in a place that can freeze over. 

Auto 123 recommends you frequently wash your convertible top to remove any abrasive salt or sand, apply top-level protection and water repellant, gently remove all snow and ice from the roof by letting your car warm up in a garage and not forcing off the ice or snow and never put your roof down when it’s wet. 

In general, do not open your convertible roof in cold temperatures as the cold can strain the mechanisms and improper drying methods, such as when the top is open, could lead to mold and mildew. 

VIP Auto Repair offers convertible top repairs and replacements to keep your vehicle looking good this winter. 


While the metro Phoenix area experiences mild winters, winterizing and checking over your car is vital whenever the temperature drops. If you plan on travelling this winter to colder areas, be sure your car can handle it before you hit the road. 

If you return home and you notice wear and tear on the interior of your car or your convertible top, VIP European Auto can help. Contact them today to get a free estimate