Debunking Common Myths About Cold Weather Car Maintenance

Cold weather car maintenance tips often get passed on like a game of telephone. Your father teaches you to pull your wiper blades up and away from your car during freezing temperatures, or your friend tells you that turning off your heater can save gas mileage. Over time, some of these misconceptions become widely accepted as the truth. 

Though taking part in myths can be harmless, such as turning off your heating system, other cold weather car maintenance myths can contribute to worsened vehicle health when they become habitual.

This article discusses and debunks some of the most widely accepted car maintenance myths, and the correct actions you should take to ensure you’re driving safely this winter. 

Myth: Engines need a few minutes to warm up 

This is a very common misconception when it comes to cold weather. In reality, your car warms up within the 30 seconds it took you to put on your favorite driving playlist and buckle up. 

Eliminated idle time is attributable to more efficient fuel injection. Unless you’re driving a vehicle that predates the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing or even the 1992 Mitsubishi, your vehicle uses efficient fuel injection (not a carburetor) that eliminates the need to wait. Countries such as Canada now have mandates that prohibit “idling” to curb unnecessary emissions.

Myth: Every tire needs snow chains

Unless you drive a vehicle that uses all-wheel drive (AWD), you will only need to use two chains. These chains will only need to be placed on your drive tires, or where the power comes from. 

For instance, if your car is a front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicle, chains will be needed on the two front tires. If your drivetrain is a rear wheel drive (RWD), you will only need to place chains on the back tires.

Myth: Turning off the heater will save gas

While this is true to a certain degree, the difference in gas mileage is incredibly minimal. 

While turning off your heater will contribute to gas efficiency, the heating system doesn’t guzzle your fuel quite like many believe. Sitting in a freezing car will have a minor effect on your gas mileage. 

Myth: Ignore tire pressure alerts during the winter — it’s just the cold weather

 This is another all-too-common cold weather myth. Though air within a tire condenses in colder temperatures, contributing to a lower pressure, a significant drop should raise a red flag. 

For every 10-degree drop in temperature, the tire pressure will drop one to two pounds per square inch (PSI). 

If you live in sunny California where the temperature drops from 70 to 60, a pressure decrease from 36 PSI to 27 PSI may be indicative of a larger problem, such as a tire puncture. It’s good practice to keep a tire pressure gauge handy and check severity before setting out on a long trip.

 Myth: All-season tires are great in all seasons

The name is quite misleading. All-season tires are not the best option for every season. Some myths go as far to say that all-season tires grip the road better than winter tires in rainy weather. 

It’s true that all-season tires are a one-size-fits-all that gets the job done, but winter-grade tires are significantly safer and more effective in winter conditions. Multiple safety reports find that winter tires require 30 to 40 percent less stopping distance. If you live in a state that receives many inches of snow, winter tires are the best option.

Crushing Cold Weather Car Maintenance Myths With a Smart Approach to Vehicle Safety

When you can’t discern which age-old cold weather car maintenance practices are myths and which are true, Elo GPS with CarRx can provide a clear view. 

Elo GPS with CarRx scans your entire vehicle to communicate what needs maintenance or the attention of a technician. With the ability to translate over 19,000 error codes and simplify information, you’ll be able to identify what’s wrong with your vehicle and exactly what service is needed. 

To learn more about how our smart technology diagnoses vehicle needs, connect with our solution experts.