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Heat vs. Cold

edited August 2011 in Repair and Maintenance
Given the excessive heat the country has been dealing with this summer, I was wondering, what is harder overall on a car...excessive heat or excessive cold?
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  • Bitter Arctic cold is your car's enemy. It's hard on the starting system, and the oil is molasses-thick... Not good at all. In addition, icy roads means many drivers play bumper cars with each other. And then the county salts the road! Northern cars have a shorter life expectancy than their temperate counterparts.

    On the other hand, cars readily stand up to hot weather. As long as the engine's cooling system functions properly, a car is not really bothered by high ambient temperatures.


  • I concur with Steve...the only thing on a car you'll see not last as long in hot climates is AC (because they're used a lot more) and batteries (heat can shorten a batteries life significantly).
  • If you check the owner's manual, you will find that excessive heat and excessive cold are BOTH considered "extreme" operating conditions, and appropriate maintenance schedule changes apply.

    Follow the manual.
  • edited August 2011
    "If you check the owner's manual, you will find that excessive heat and excessive cold are BOTH considered 'extreme' operating conditions, and appropriate maintenance schedule changes apply.

    Follow the manual."

    Talk about answering a question that was never asked....

    I concur that cold weather is worse. Just look at how much longer cars last in the south. Much of the difference can be attributed to salt being used on the roads, but some things that don't rust, like belts and hoses, don't tolerate the cold very well either.
  • I'm with Steve on this one. Besides the points he's mentioned, arctic cold can freeze your coolant and crack an engine block, and it's also hard on bearings, seals, suspension, plastics (they warp and crack), and every other part. When I lived in North Dakota, where ambient temperatures reach -40F for extended periods, I'd jump in my car in the morning and even though the engine had been plugged in all night everything else was hard as a rock. The shocks were frozen solid, the tires had flat spots, even the foam in the seats was frozen solid....it was like sitting on a marble bench. And we used to view used cars differently there than we do in NH. In NH we look carefullyy for rust. North Dakota is too cold for salt to work, so they use sand. Used cars can look perfect but be totally shot mechanically.

    IMHO extreme cold is definitely harder on a car. And I speak from painful experience.
  • Agree that bitter cold is hard on all parts of the car. I once had a project in the North where the temperature dropped to close to -40F overnight. Although I plugged in and had 5W30 oil, the engine would start but the transmission would not shift until the car was well warmed up. Cold weather is very hard on seals and belts.

    In another case, I drove North, parked outside overnight at -30, and the fan belt promptly snapped when when starting the car the next morning. That's the only time I used pantyhose (source unrevealed) as an emergency fan belt. It worked well to get me to the nearest service shop.
  • edited August 2011
    I had a manual tranny in North Dakota, and the fluid would get so thick that I literally couldn't feel the gates. Shifting was like dragging a canoe paddle through wet concrete mix.
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