When I moved to Denver, Colorado several months ago, I was looking forward to spending time reveling at its natural beauty—the different landscapes and terrains. However, as with most places that are known for their heart-stopping sceneries, Colorado is also known for its extreme weather. This was something I learned the hard way when I got caught in a hail storm.
Thankfully, I could get quality hail damage repair in Denver. After living here for a few seasons I find a few specialty stores handy. To be better-equipped, below are four common weather-related car issues you’ll likely deal with as a Colorado car owner.
#1 Tire Pressure
As the temperature drops, so does your tire pressure—usually at a rate of about 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10 degrees the temperature decreases. This is due to the air inside the tire condensing from the cold. As you drive and your tires heat up, the pressure may increase again.
Even though some loss in tire pressure is temporary, it’s a good idea to regularly check and fill your tires as needed during the winter. A loss of as little as two PSI can lead to a decrease in fuel economy, worse handling, and increased stopping distances. If you let your pressure go under 20 PSI, there’s a greater risk for a blowout.
#2 Drained Battery Voltage
For all but three months in the year, Denver can see nighttime temperatures drop to below-freezing. That means that for most of the year, your car battery is at risk of having its voltage drained.
Freezing weather can drain your battery power by as much as 30%-60%. This is because car batteries work through an electrochemical reaction that slows down in colder weather.
On top of this, hot weather in the summer causes internal corrosion and evaporation of important electrolytes, which the battery needs to keep going. Your battery already goes through a lot of beating in the summer, then winter comes along and stresses it further. Ultimately, this will likely lead to having an unreliable battery that can only be used in a short period.
To avoid weather-related car battery issues, keep an eye on how old your battery is. The average car battery lasts for about three years. If you’re nearing that mark, it may be a good idea to have your mechanic test the voltage and replace the battery as needed.
You should also see if an auto technician can help you diagnose and replace corroded terminal ends. Lastly, it’s recommended to park your car in a garage during extremely hot and cold weather.
#3 Vehicle Fluid Viscosity
The weather can also affect how viscous (thick) your vehicle fluids are. This includes engine oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, and transmission fluid.
When the temperature outside drops, so does the viscosity of your car’s fluids. Your engine will have to work harder in cold weather to move the same amount of fluid as it would in warmer weather.
Counteracting this will depend on the fluid. For motor oil, you can purchase multi-viscosity oil or oil that’s formulated for winter (usually denoted with a “W,” for example, 5W-30). For transmission fluid, synthetic fluid is usually more tolerant to cold than regular fluid. Ask your auto mechanic for advice and take your car in each fall to prepare your fluids for winter.
#4 Damage on Other Important Components
Icy conditions during winter—causing internal wear and tear—isn’t the only ice you have to watch out for. From about mid-April to mid-September, Colorado’s notorious hail storms can cause serious dents on your car.
It’s a good thing that there are reliable paintless dent repair services to fix hail damage on a car without affecting your car’s value. Still, it’s best to protect your car by parking in a garage or buying a car cover in order to avoid damage in the first place.
While it’s true that Colorado has some breathtakingly rugged mountainscapes, you’d have to be prepared for the weather that comes with it — especially if you’re a car owner! Make sure to check your car’s fluids, tire pressure, battery, and other important components regularly, and take it in to get serviced at least once a year.