Winter has just arrived, which only translates to more and more car problems. It gets worse when you need to be somewhere, and your car suddenly dies on you. It can be your car struggling to start in the morning, low tyre pressure or a dead battery. There are a host of other issues that can creep-up during these cold months of winter.

Speaking of winter, you might wanna read: Winter Car Care | Get Your Car Winter Ready

Thankfully, all this can be easily avoided. Below are a couple of look-outs and tell-tale signs for some of the most common car problems occurring in the winter. Look out for these!

Dead Battery

The classic “dead battery in the winter”. Did you know? A typical lead-acid car battery loses about 10% of its charge capacity in the winter. It can even lead upto a completely dead battery. We receive numerous calls of motorist reporting battery or cranking issues in these months. If your car battery is older than five years, we highly suggest installing a new battery, to avoid unexpected breakdowns.

What to look for?

  • Starting problems in the early hours of the morning
  • Corrosion on the battery terminals
  • Electricals accessories fluctuating or not working

Low Tyre Pressure

This one is self-explanatory. During the winters the car tyre pressure drops one psi for every 10-degree temperature drop. A sudden temperature shift can also cause the compounds in the car tyre to soften and crack. The only way out of this is to check the tyre pressure every week. We also suggest investing in a 12v portable car tyre inflator, which might come in handy.

What to look for?

  • Low tyre pressure
  • Bulged or cracked side walls
  • Visible punctures and tears

Thick Fluids

Elementary physics. During winter, various car fluids like the engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, even the wiper fluid increase in density and viscosity. This causes them to work less efficiently. Thick engine oil also increases fluid drag which leads to a significant loss in power. This can also wear out internal seals and gaskets. Apart from regular oil changes, it is a good idea is to let the engine warm-up for at least 10 minutes.

What to look for?

  • Cold cranking issues
  • Head gasket leakage
  • Low engine temperature

Cracked Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are what ignite the air-fuel mixture inside the combustion cylinder. The cold winter can cause the ceramic spark plugs to crack or corrode. A worn or bad spark plug will reduce the car’s efficiency. The cold weather can also causes the electrode on the spark plug to wear out causing starting problems.

What to look for?

  • Sluggish acceleration and performance
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Visible corrosion on the spark plug

Worn Alternator Belt

An alternator is what charges the battery, which in turn powers all the electronics in the car. A faulty alternator will cause battery and electrical issues. The chilly winter can cause the alternator belt to crack. If you hear a high-pitched squeal during start-up, there is a high chance of a worn alternator or a timing belt. Inspect and replace immediately. Get a thorough general inspection of your car to check for any problems with the alternator.

What to look for?

  • A battery warning light on the dashboard
  • Battery charging issues
  • High-pitched squealing noise from the engine bay

Weak Starter Motor

The starter motor does exactly what it says; it starts the car. During winters, the starter motor has to work hard to turn the engine, which puts a lot of stress on it. There is nothing much you can do about this except predicting its failure. You should avoid cranking the engine continuously and give at least 30 seconds before starts. Also, check for corrosion on the starter terminals and ensure it is well insulated from any moisture. Keep the battery in good shape for a healthy starter motor.

What to look for?

  • Clicking sound during start-up
  • Audible metallic noise from the starter motor
  • Delay in engine start


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Akshat Ajeya

Lead, Content & Creatives at GoMechanic | Consumer of many foods | Automobile Scale Model Collector | DIY guy

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