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A black Volkswagon is parked in the snow, possibly in need of winter car servicing.

5 common automotive issues to keep your eye out for this winter

Winter car issues often accompany harsh conditions that can sometimes lead to costly vehicle problems. Here are five to be aware of.

While Brisbane itself is commonly referred to as the ‘sunshine state’, it still has seasons. In July, Melbourne will see temperatures drop to a cool average of 14°C while Brisbane is enjoying a comparatively balmy 21°C. However, it’s a stark difference to the +30°C conditions we’re enjoying in summer. This drop in temperature is where issues can start to arise.

Here are five to be mindful of when you get behind the wheel this winter.

Poor tyre pressure

Changing temperatures are a common driver behind fluctuating tyre pressures. A drop of around 10°C – roughly the same difference between summer and winter conditions in Brisbane – can easily pull a tyre below its recommended PSI. This can lead to sub-optimal traction, less than perfect handling, and a lower overall lifetime for your tyres.

An easy way to avoid this issue is by checking your tyre pressure regularly, something you can do at your local petrol station. Simply check the recommended PSI of your tyres (usually recorded in your car manual) to ensure they’re always properly inflated. Alternatively, if you’re travelling south this winter, you can also substitute your tyres with a more heavy duty alternative.

Battery problems

Dropping temperatures can quickly lead to drained batteries, even if they’re only going as low as 10°C at night. Starting your car in colder conditions can take up to twice the amount of energy as typically required on a warm day, so it’s a mistake to take a ‘business as usual’ approach to your battery in winter.

Batteries that are more than 12 months old will benefit from a seasonal tune up. Testing it now, along with your engine’s starting and charging capabilities, can be far more cost-effective than footing the bill for towing later.

Worn belts

When a car doesn’t start in winter, folks are quick to assume it’s due to a battery issue. And a lot of the time it is. A service will quickly tell you so. One issue that’s harder to detect (and even trickier to solve) is an alternator belt problem. To find it, you’ll need to get underneath your car with the use of a car lift – something you’ll be hard-pressed to find in a residential garage. Two signs it’s an alternator issue include when your vehicle dies after you’ve jump-started it, or if you hear a loud squeaking noise.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for belt issues. Your best bet is to get your car immediately towed to avoid it breaking down on the road. You should then ensure it gets towed straight to a mechanic because an alternator (or alternator belt) replacement is far from a DIY job. You’ll need to remove countless other components before you even touch the alternator.

Failing spark plugs

If your spark plug is already on its last legs, a dip in temperature could be the final straw. Because they’re susceptible to corrosion, cold weather can make it hard for them to spark, putting you at risk of being left high and dry one winter’s day when your car fails.

As with car batteries, spark plugs should be regularly checked as part of your winter tune-up. That means old or worn plugs can be replaced before they become a problem.

Thick or incorrect fluid

A good quality oil should be designed to withstand the cold. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Especially if you’ve made the mistake of purchasing and topping up your own oils. Doing so can cause permanent damage to your engine and vehicle, which is why it pays to check your owner’s manual before reaching for a new bottle.

If you’re unsure which oil is best for your car this winter, don’t roll the dice. Instead, put your pride and joy in the hands of the experts so they can replace your fluids with winter-grade products. Importantly, they’ll ensure you also have enough coolant on hand to avoid engine freezing.

Suffice to say, all of the above issues can be avoided with the same solution – a winter service. A qualified European car service and maintenance provider like Accelerate Automotive can give your vehicle the kind of seasonal service that is critical to repair prevention.

Our team will identify what needs attention and when it needs replacing, ensuring your car gets the maintenance it needs to run like a well-oiled machine all winter long. Plus, we’ll throw in a premium ECOYA car diffuser of your choice with every service to ensure your car smells as good as it runs!

Author: Team Accelerate

Date: July 2023

Team Accelerate

Team Accelerate

Decades of trusted knowledge in European vehicles.

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