What Happens if I Leave Car Outside in Cold Weather?

If you can’t handle standing outside your house in the winter, think about what your car is going through! One of the biggest mistakes you can do as a car owner is to leave car outside in cold weather and expect it to be completely fine later on!

The cold temperatures take a big toll on different parts of the vehicle since cars are not designed to withstand freezing temperatures. In this article, we’ll list out all of the most common situations that arise from leaving car outside in cold weather: as well as solutions on how to solve it. 

If you haven’t yet left your car outside in cold temperatures, congratulations! You don’t have any damage control to do, but we still recommend that you read through the article to better understand what could happen if you choose to leave it outside. It’s time to get a heating system for that garage!

What happens if I leave my car outside in cold temperatures? 

Cars are not designed to handle the extreme cold temperatures of winter. Leaving your car outside during a cold winter can result in deflated tires, battery death, dents and scratches, and engine damage. In order to avoid all of these situations, store your car in a heated garage during the winter. 

Let’s look at each of these damaged parts in detail to know how you can solve it and prevent it from happening in the future. 

Deflated Tires

This is one of the most common side effects of leaving your car out in the cold. What happens is that the tire pressure significantly drops in cold weather. That’s because air will have a contracting effect inside the tires, drastically reducing the pressure. It’ll be difficult to drive with tires this deflated. 

Deflated Tires in Ice

Here’s what to do about it: If you’re leaving your car outside and you don’t think the temperature is too cold, we recommend that you tread on the safe side and keep checking the tire pressure every once in a while. You should probably do this more often than you usually would so that you can tell if the tire pressure is falling fast.

If you live in a really cold state (such as Alaska), and cannot afford to set up heating for your garage, you should really consider getting winter tires that are specially built to withstand the extreme cold. 

Battery Death

Yes, this one is just as ominous as it sounds. No car owner wants to hear the two words ‘Battery Death’ together, but it’s a likely outcome for leaving your car outside in the winter, so you best be prepared for it. 

Battery

What happens is that the battery isn’t designed to handle cold temperatures and inevitably loses all of its voltage. If the temperature goes below a certain point, you’ll even find that certain parts inside the battery have frozen or gotten damaged due to freezing and melting. Since the battery is obviously an electric part, it doesn’t take kindly to ice. 

Here’s what to do about it: You can use some jumper cables to get your battery alive and kicking again. However, dealing with frozen insides and corrosion is a much more difficult fix. If you’re not able to switch on your battery even after using jumper cables then you might have to crank it open (safely!) to check out what’s happening inside. Take a look at the cables to ensure there is no corrosion.

An easy preventive measure is to get a battery warmer. It’s quite inexpensive and can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. 

Dents and Scratches

Unfortunately, your car’s beauty can get affected too. The collection of snow, ice, and hail can be a big enemy against your car’s beautiful exterior. Snow, ice, and hail are harsh and can easily cause scratches and dents to your car, especially on the windshield.

Car Roof Dents by Snow

The wipers can get so frozen solid that they are warped and bent beyond repair. Freezing and thawing can have damaging effects on these parts. 

The paint can also start to chip off when it’s in contact with the snow and ice. 

Here’s what to do about it: Apart from obviously trying to shift your car indoors, there isn’t too much you can do about this problem apart from diligently scraping off all snow and ice from your vehicle. You will have to be really careful not to inflict even more damage to the car. Don’t let snow and ice collect and remain on your vehicle for too long or they can have lasting side effects like the ones we mentioned.

Engine Damage

One of the first things that happen in cold weather is that the fluids get thickened. Engine fluid is the first to be affected by this. The engine fluid has a much higher viscosity than it’s supposed to and this can really damage the engine if you try to operate it. That’s because the oil pump located inside the engine has never had to work this hard to pick up the engine oil 

Car Engine

Having extremely thick oil inside the engine means that the engine assumes there’s no oil at all. Running a car in this condition can lead to incorrect valve timing or even a misfired cylinder which can all be extremely costly to fix and repair. 

What you can do about it: If you’re anticipating having to leave your car outside in the cold during the winter or even having to drive it in these bitterly cold months, it makes sense to invest in some very low viscosity engine oil. You’ll be able to find these low viscosity engine oils, but just make sure that they’re compatible with your engine. As a result, these low viscosity engine oils will come up to the right viscosity level as it gets colder and have your engine working like normal.

Conclusion

It’s important to take care of your car in extremely cold temperatures. It’s simply not possible to leave your car out in the snow throughout the winter and then expect it to be working in the same condition that you left it in, come Spring.

The good news is that with just a few precautionary measures, you can prevent the tires, battery, exterior, and engine from undergoing any sort of damage, and preserve your car in the long run. Good luck!

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