How does the cold influence the performance of the car?

The arrival of winter supposes a considerable drop in temperatures, which has a direct impact on the performance of vehicles, especially those that are parked outside for long hours.

In this article, we are going to explain how cold affects the car , analyzing each of the elements and parts of it, as well as the temperatures from which they begin to lose their properties.

How does the cold affect the tires?

We start with tires, not only because they are the main safety element of any vehicle, but because rubber is the first material to be affected by a drop in temperatures.

The moment the thermometer drops below 10ºC, the elasticity of the rubber is reduced, which endangers the physical integrity of the tires, accelerating the rate at which they deteriorate and reducing their ability to grip.

The lower the temperature, the more pressure the tire will lose.

In fact, for every 5 degrees reduction in temperature, the tire pressure will drop 0.07 bar.

It goes without saying that, if you usually park your car at night on the street during winter, it is essential that you periodically check the tire pressure.

Only in that way, you will prevent them from losing faculties.

How does the cold affect the windshield wipers and other rubber parts?

Of course, the windscreen wipers, as well as the sleeves, belts, moldings and other parts made of rubber will be equally affected by the reduction of temperatures below 10ºC.

Obviously, the wipers are, together with the tires, the most exposed rubber elements.

On the other hand, when the temperature drops below 0ºC, it is very probable that ice will form on the crystals. In these cases, the windshield wiper blade could get stuck to the car’s window, so, before operating it, it is essential that you make sure that it is in perfect condition.

What about the windshield washer fluid?

If it is mainly soap and water, the freezing temperature is also 0ºC.

If you opt for a specific professional liquid, it can withstand a drop in temperatures of up to -5ºC

How does the cold affect the car lock?

Although the mechanical structure of the car lock can withstand low temperatures, the keyhole can be sealed by ice, making it impossible to use the key.

How does cold affect engine oil?

Motor oil also becomes more viscous as temperatures drop. However, it is necessary to distinguish between the different types of existing oil.

  • The 20W-XX type maintains its optimum performance down to approximately -15ºC.
  • Type 10W-XX maintains optimum viscosity down to -30ºC.
  • Type 5W-XX resists up to -35ºC.
  • Finally, the type 0W-XX is capable of withstanding temperatures down to -40ºC without losing power.

How does the cold affect the car battery?

The batteries are also capable of withstanding a significant drop in temperatures. However, below 0ºC they begin to lose their ability to supply current. In fact, when reaching -10ºC, the battery power can be reduced by half.

This is something to keep in mind, both when starting the car, and in the general performance of hybrid and electric vehicles.

How does cold affect the coolant?

The cooling circuit of the car contains a large amount of water and, as such, it freezes from 0ºC.

Hence the importance of using a mixture with a suitable antifreeze liquid, at least 50%.

In these cases, said mixture will be able to withstand temperatures down to -35ºC.

How does cold affect fuel?

On the one hand, it is necessary to distinguish between gasoline and diesel since, while the former can withstand temperature drops of up to -70ºC, diesel begins to lose performance below -12ºC, due to paraffin freezing.

Formerly, it was recommended to mix diesel with 10% gasoline, to avoid this problem during the winter season or when traveling to ski resorts, etc.

However, nowadays, fuel manufacturers add additives with antifreeze properties, so other preventive measures are usually no longer necessary.

As you have seen, the cold affects the car in different ways, depending on the temperature and the element that we are analyzing.

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