Winter Maintenance Tips: Frozen Fluids

Winter maintenance tips: frozen fluids

Winter Maintenance

When it’s extremely cold outside, a cup of warm coffee can freeze in the air. I’ll admit that antifreeze is designed for slightly higher performance than a cup of Tim Hortons. But, at the same time, most vehicle fluids aren’t designed for Saskatchewan winters. Here are a few things you should know about fluids as you perform your winter maintenance:

Antifreeze

Its name can be a bit misleading because pure antifreeze only has a freezing point of about -8C°. The freezing point is only lowered by the addition of water. Most of the antifreeze you can purchase comes pre-mixed with water at a 50/50 ratio. That balance will be sufficient for most temperatures, except the extremes. During the coldest months, increasing the ratio of antifreeze to water (approximately 65/35) will lower the freezing point of your antifreeze dramatically while keeping the boiling point from dropping too low. Take note, however, that modern vehicles are calibrated to read their internal temperatures with a 50/50 blend.  

Winter-Blend Gasoline

You may not know it, but the gasoline you pump in June is different from the blend you pump in December. The difference hinges upon the Reid Vapor Pressure rating (RVP). The higher the RVP, the more easily the fuel evaporates. Summer blend gasoline has a lower RVP to prevent evaporation and decrease excessive pollution. Winter-blend fuel has a higher RVP so that enough gasoline can evaporate even in freezing temperatures. Fortunately, refineries take uncertainty out of the equation for consumers and supply winter-blend gasoline only during the appropriate months. So, this technically isn’t a winter maintenance tip, but it’s still good to know.

Oil Viscosity

For most drivers, remembering to have their oil changed regularly concludes their thoughts on the subject. They rarely consider the type of oil they’re using. Engine oils have a number of distinguishing features, but only viscosity is relevant to cold temperatures. Viscosity is the oil’s thickness, and different oils retain optimal viscosity at different temperatures. That’s why it’s important to pick the right oil for your climate. In the rating 5W-30, 5W is the winter rating (30 is the high-temperature rating), tested at 0°F. The lower the number before the W, the quicker oil will flow in your engine when it is cold.   

Bottom Line

Regular maintenance is essential to keeping your vehicle on the road and avoiding costly repairs down the road. No matter what time of year you need it, our service specialists are here not only to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape but to help you learn best practices when it comes to maintaining a healthy vehicle. Call us today at 1-866-789-3032 or better yet, come in and see us!