How Extreme Heat and Extreme Cold Can Damage Your Car

Anyone who lives somewhere with seasonal temperatures (hello, Utah!) can tell you how damaging climate extremes are on their vehicles. From the penetrating UV rays of summer that fade the upholstery to the icy roads that kick up chemicals in the winter, the weather can have an impact on your car’s overall value.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help. With a little extra planning and regular trips to the car wash, your car can stay in good condition for years—no matter what the seasons throw at you!

Extreme Heat and Cars

The most damaging issue of extreme heat in terms of your car’s overall appearance comes from UV rays and the sun. Paint can crack, upholstery will fade, and all the rubber and plastic trim will eventually break down. The best way to prevent damage to the outside of your car is to apply (or have a professional apply) a wax, sealant, or other protective coating. Like a kind of sunscreen, the reflective properties of these materials keep the most harmful parts of the sun away while also giving your car a beautiful shine. You may have to find specialty products for things like plastic trim and the rubber of your tires, but these only have to be applied a few times each year, so it’s not too much of a problem.

Other problems related to extreme heat include:

  • Battery issues, which stem from too rapid evaporation of battery fluid and higher rates of corrosion.
  • Overheated engines, which can be prevented by making sure all your coolants and fluids are at full capacity.
  • Poorly inflated tires, which are most dangerous when the road temperatures are so hot they can overheat the rubber.

Extreme Cold and Cars

In the winter weather, your car’s exterior becomes susceptible to both freezing and snow/dirt/chemicals being kicked up from the road. Because most people don’t wash their cars during this time (a big mistake!), these materials build up and cause problems like rust and paint chipping. The best thing you can do is take your car in for regular washing regardless of the temperature outside. Because an automatic car wash is protected by cover, it’s much easier to do than you might think.

Other problems related to extreme cold include:

  • Battery issues, which are once again a problem because the cold can zap the voltage needed to get your car started.
  • Fluids freezing over or thickening to the point they don’t work properly anymore (including everything from transmission fluid to the gasoline in your tank).
  • Tire pressure issues, as tire pressure will drop 1 psi for every 10 degree drop in temperature.
  • Rubber engine parts, including timing belts, which can’t always stand up to long-term cold temperatures.

The best way to prevent long-term damage, regardless of the weather, is to take your car in for regular tune-ups and to hit the car wash a few times every month. Not only will the cleanliness be good for your vehicle, but you can perform a walk-around to ensure that everything is in working order.

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