When Car Maintenance Goes Wrong During Winter Travel

When Car Maintenance Goes Wrong During Winter Travel

It was a dark and stormy night. Snowy, too. And cold. Add those elements up and you have the perfect formula for a real-life horror story. That's because the risks of winter driving are all too real. A breakdown that would be an annoyance in mild weather can become life-threatening in winter. Since staying home in front of the fire isn't an option for most people, it's important to know what could go wrong and what to do about it. Here are a few tips for staying safe on the roads this winter through proper car maintenance:

Running out of gas
Running out of gas is inconvenient - and embarrassing. But fixing it is usually no more complicated than using a smartphone to call for help. But winter weather changes everything. Sometimes drivers get stranded for hours and have to choose between saving gas and staying warm.

Solution: Always keep the tank, at least, half full during the winter months.

Dead battery
At zero degrees, a battery has only about half of the cranking power it has at 80 degrees. In addition, engine oil thickens when it gets cold, making the car harder to start and putting additional strain on the battery.

Solution: Inspect the battery to make sure it's in good shape: no cracks, no loose cables, and a full charge.

Carbon monoxide poisoning
When drivers get stranded during snow storms, they typically worry about staying warm. But there's actually a bigger concern: carbon monoxide poisoning. When drifting snow piles up around the exhaust pipe, the results can be catastrophic.

Solution: Stranded drivers who keep their cars running for warmth need to regularly clear snow away from the exhaust pipe.

Limited visibility
Driving through snow and ice is hard enough without being unable to see the road ahead. Drivers might not have any control over how fast the snow is coming down, but they can control other factors that affect visibility - like wiper blades that freeze and become stuck to the windshield.


  • Remove all snow from the car before leaving. Snow on the roof can fall onto the windshield, blocking visibility at a crucial moment.
  • Make sure wipers are in good shape and that wiper fluid (which also needs to be rated for cold weather) is topped off.
  • Keep an ice scraper in the car, even if it's usually parked in a garage.
  • Verify that the car's defroster is working properly.
  • For frozen wipers, running the defroster for a few minutes usually solves the problem. Be patient: Don't try to force the wipers when they're still frozen.

Frozen coolant system
Although it seems counterintuitive, a car's coolant system is still important during winter months. An improper antifreeze/water ratio can cause a car's system to lock up, leading to costly and time-consuming repairs.

Solution: Check the owner's manual for the proper antifreeze/water ratio.

Flat tires
Tires lose one to two pounds of pressure for every 10-degree temperature drop, and low tire pressure can lead to blowouts

Solution: Monitor tire pressure closely during frigid temperatures.

Driving during winter weather always carries risks. But proper preparation can minimize those risks. Mr. Clean Car Wash and Oil Change Plus is ready to help keep you and your family as safe as possible during your winter travels. Visit the location nearest you today to find out more about the car maintenance services available to help keep your car running and you safe in winter weather or to take advantage of current promotions.