Myths about winter operation of cars

They say miracles are born of ignorance. Probably, myths appear approximately in the same way. In the automobile world there are a lot of them, and each has its defenders and opponents. Let’s analyze popular myths about winter exploitation and have a look at them from the side of facts. The only thing that is beyond dispute is that in some cases it should scrap my car in toronto.

Myth 1: It is necessary to warm up the engine in winter.

A lot of copies are broken about cold start, and not to add victims, we shall simply notice, that the truth is in the middle. The instructions to modern engines explicitly say that it is not necessary to warm up – it is bad for the environment because of the toxic exhaust, and the very design of the power unit is adapted to drive in the cold. On the other hand, cold oil needs time to disperse throughout the engine. Until it does, some parts are left without normal friction protection. There is also the so-called operating temperature at which the lubricant shows its factory qualities. It happens not at once, but after notorious warming up. It will be enough for 5-7 minutes to prepare a motor to careful driving without overturning and abrupt starts. During this time, you can have time to clean a car from snow, wait until ice melts on glasses, check coolant or top up washer. It is more important to drive calmly during the first 20 minutes of a trip. Active pedaling will do more harm. So, make a good habit to spend less for warming up, and then do not rush anywhere.

There is no sense to warm up diesel aggregates. They install additional heater in order to make the interior warm. It takes a little bit of heavy fuel for itself and does not participate in engine operation. The fact that the diesel engine warms up badly in no way influences the adaptability of the car to severe cold. About diesel and its relationship to freezing temperatures in a separate myth below.

As for the electric cars, which more and more often appear on our roads, they even like the frost. These are not batteries of gadgets, which lose their capacity and are instantly discharged in severe frost. This only increases the efficiency of electric units. In theory, in severe frost it can become one hundred percent, which in real life is not yet available. There is no sense in warming up an electric car in our usual understanding of this process. It is even harmful, because part of the battery charging consists of currents from driving and braking, and the standing car with the heaters on is one continuous discharge.

Myth 2: The parking brake can freeze

Myths about winter operation of the car for many people start with this belief. The belief was born in times of hegemony of domestic car industry on roads. The pads could freeze to the brake drums because of a special material, which saturated them with water. The moisture glued the mechanism so badly that one had to run for a kettle with boiling water. The handbrake wasn’t used often, it was often left in gear.

Hygroscopicity, that is ability to absorb water, at modern pads is minimal, they don’t stick to drums any more. There are no such problems with disc brakes, of which there are more and more, even in economy segment.

Here it is necessary to make a note, that the ice all the same can bind brakes, but only if before a parking in frosts you have passed on deep snow or somewhere have scooped water with all suspension. Then a thin layer of ice will cover all bottom.

It is harmful not to use parking brake. It can rust and will not help in case of emergency. If you have automatic transmission, and parking on a slope, it is desirable to put a car on handbrake. Otherwise, the transmission’s lock without the parking brake is under great strain.

Myth 3: The consumption is more in winter.

Many motorists for some reason think, that the fuel consumption is higher in winter. They connect this fact with low temperatures in different ways. In fact, the fuel consumption is higher for other reasons.

Chargers regular guests in the cigarette lighter socket use up the battery charge, warm options, of which there is a long list in a modern car, require sharing energy with the engine. Hence the additional increase in appetite.

In winter many people have piles of superfluous things in a trunk – they forget to take them out during preparation for a new season. Sometimes something is added, in order to insulate yourself if you happen to get lost on a snowy road.

In winter time, the load on the running system is higher. It is more difficult to knead snowy slush and slide on an icy surface, than to roll on dry asphalt. The winter tire tread which takes the slush out from under the contact patch should partially reduce the car’s appetite. Let’s write down the low pressure in tires here as well. Because of the cold weather, air can gradually escape. Driving on half-spent tires increases your fuel consumption (but slightly reduces the braking distance).

Frosty weather makes you warm up the car more often. Longer engine run – more consumption. Many drivers do not notice it, in fact in a daily schedule five minutes do not pay attention.

Myth 4: You have to change the oil in the engine before winter

Before cold weather many advise to change the oil to a more fluid one. And it should be synthetic. They say that in cold weather it becomes thick and it is more difficult to pump it through the whole engine. Let’s not argue, but that is not the main thing. Old oil becomes dangerous for the engine in winter. Due to impurities, it takes longer to reach operating temperature and is worse for lubricating parts. Worn lubricant puts a strain on the starter when starting the crankshaft. It also hurts the turbine, which is under-lubricated. Dirty oil is worse at dissipating heat, increasing the average temperature at which the engine is constantly running. Resistance to wear suffers.

It is better to choose an oil for replacement that is adapted to cold operation, but strictly within the manufacturer’s tolerance. What you can pour in the car is always prescribed by the manufacturer. Up to specific examples of oils. Information is available in the manual of the car or on the official website of the brand.

Myth 5. The diesel is worse adapted to frosts.

Diesel engine has two problems, or to be more precise, peculiarities: warming up the interior and thick diesel fuel.

The power units on heavy fuel don’t give out heat for a long time due to their structure. There is no sense to warm them up after a frosty night. There are cabin heaters for this purpose. They consume minimum of fuel and are perfectly capable of warming up.

The low temperatures can turn petrol into paraffin, due to which it will be impossible to start the engine, but it is necessary to make an amendment. Usually, very viscous fuel lives at dubious gas stations, not network and with suspiciously low prices. There are a lot of them on local roads. The fuel there is hand-made, with impurities and, of course, without additives, which reduce the temperature of thickening. Moreover: quality diesel fuel does not need any improvements up to a certain moment and stays liquid till severe frosts. So, drivers should blame the quality of fuel, not its peculiarities.

Myth 6: You should never drive with an empty tank in winter.

It is better never to drive with an empty tank. The fuel pump in many cars is cooled by a tank of fuel to which it gives up some of its heat. If there is almost no fuel in the tank, it becomes more stressed and the cooling effect is lost.

Winter operation actively accumulates water in the tank. It gets there with low-quality fuel or, more often, it comes from the condensate, settling on the empty walls of the fuel reservoir. It happens so because of the temperature difference between the heated residual petrol and the cold street. The water doesn’t mix with the fuel and gets into the engine as it is, which doesn’t make it better. After cold parking water can freeze and clog the throat of the gasoline pump along with the fuel lines.

Special additives are designed to remove moisture from the tank. They bind it, turning it into a flammable compound. Some people advise using alcohol because it is cheaper, but it makes the elements of the fuel line rust quickly, so the savings are questionable.

Myth 7: In winter you have to raise windshield wipers.

All seals of your car suffer in cold weather. And the rubber components of wipers too. They lose elasticity from frost, and if old, they are covered with cracks. Because of this they clean worse: they leave dirty stains on the windshield. To prolong the life of windshield wipers, you need to lubricate the rubbing elements silicone. Something for bicycle maintenance will work. It lasts a long time on the rubber and helps keep it flexible. Still wipers in bad condition better replace, or then have to admire the muddy smudges on the glass, which will not clean.

In the cold the wipers will stick to the glass, if they were left in the water, and during the parking it got noticeably colder. Older rubbers absorb more liquid, as they have more micro-damage. The laws of physics can be defeated if you have time to warm up the cabin: even without heating threads in the windshield, the warm air will gradually melt the ice. When there is no time to gather and you have to go immediately it is better to re-insure and raise the wipers.


Usually myths do not exist by themselves, but are born of some reason. For example, there used to be pads, which often froze, and now there is less chance to freeze them, but the myth remained. So in any such tales, you have to dig to the heart of the matter and not take your word for it.

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