Winter can be brrrrrr-utal on your car, especially when it comes to your battery and tires. It’s common for batteries to die and tires to go flat in cold weather, but why? And, more importantly, what can you do to prevent battery and tire problems when the thermometer takes a nosedive? Your car care friends at Direct Auto & Life Insurance are here to provide the answers.
First, let’s tackle dead batteries.
Why do car batteries die in cold weather?
According to Consumer Reports, car batteries typically die in cold weather because damage done during the hot summer—such as corrosion—often doesn’t appear until the temperatures drop and the battery is forced to work harder.
A cold battery has decreased cranking power and cold weather causes motor oil to thicken, meaning it’s tougher for the engine to turn over, explains Consumer Reports. In other words, cold weather exposes a battery’s weakness.
“A 100 percent fully charged battery will not freeze until approximately minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit. A fully discharged battery can freeze at or around 32 degrees,” notes Gale Kimbrough, technical services manager for Interstate Batteries, in a phone interview with Cars.com.
You can either replace the dead battery yourself or take your car to a car care center and have them do it. Many shops, like Pep Boys and Advance Auto Parts, will install your battery for free if you purchase it from them.
Now, what about flat or low-pressure tires in cold weather?
Why do tires go flat in cold weather?
Consumer Reports says falling temperatures cause the air to become denser, prompting a tire to lose some of its pressure. Tire pressure can fall 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10-degree decrease in temperature.
If your car’s tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) signals a problem, stop for a free tire check as soon as possible. The TPMS light turns on when one or more tires drops at least 25% below its recommended pressure. Otherwise, check your car’s tire pressure once a month.
Discount Tire, Goodyear Auto Service, NTB, and Big O Tires are a few stores that offer free tire pressure checks. No purchase necessary!
While we’re on the topic of tires, is your car equipped with a spare tire? Research from AAA shows 28% of cars from 2017 didn’t come equipped with a spare. If your car is one of them, consider investing in a spare tire or keeping a flat tire repair kit in your car.
So, how can you prevent being kicked to the curb by a dead battery or flat tire?
Help prevent a dead battery or flat tire
Our best advice is to get your car’s battery and tires checked as part of your vehicle’s routine maintenance. This way, you can ensure your battery is properly charged and your tires have the proper pressure.
Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare, you still can’t prevent a dead battery or flat tire in cold weather. But neither have to put a freeze on your winter fun. Let Direct Auto & Life Insurance ease your mind with a Roadside Assistance plan that includes 24-hour emergency towing, battery jump-starts, and flat-tire fixes, among other services. Call 1-877-463-4732, click, or come into a Direct Auto & Life location near you to learn more today!