Cars From Hot Weather Climes Performing in Cold Weather

I own a 2000 Nissan Altima that has only been operated in California. I am moving to Chicago soon. I have heard that cars that have been broken in long term in hot weather climates like this one will probably not perform well in the frigid Chicago winters. Any truth to this? Thanks for anyone’s response that has any experience in this subject. Matt

As long as the car has been properly maintained, uses the correct oil and has the appropriate tires, it will not be an issue.


Only other thing I’d check is the battery, cold weather is much harder on it. If it’s 4+ years old I’d consider getting a new one.

That is a myth. Your car will be fine.

I would take some precautions though. When you get to Chicago, I would drain all of the windshield washer fluid and replace it with fluid that won’t freeze. It is made differently for colder climates.

When is the last time you replaced the antifreeze/coolant? If it has been more than three years, I would do that too.

You might also get your battery checked for free at an auto parts store and you might check to see if your owner’s manual recommends a thinner oil in cold weather. There is likely no rush on these issues though.

Fear not. Your car will be fine, as long as its battery is in good condition.

Your car’s battery is in good condition, isn’t it?

I have worked with many Texans who brought their cars North. Aside from the advice already given, I recommended most of them replace the battery (if older than 3 years) before winter. Cars sold in the South have much smaller batteries.

I also introduced them to 0W30 synthtic oil (pours at -45) and block heaters. Chicago is not paticularly cold compared to Minnesota and Montana. Your car will be fine if you check the antifreeze and make sure it’s good for -40. Engine oil should be 5W30 at the thickest.

Cars sold in the South have much smaller batteries. True for some cars, but I don’t think it is true for many today.

Remember that warm weather wears a battery faster, but cold weather reveals the lost ability to hold a charge. Before winter comes on, have it load tested by a “northern” mechanic whether it’s big or small…other than that, appropriate oil vis. as recommended, a scraper/snowbroom and maybe winter tires are in order.

No truth, but the cold will let you know if there is a problem with any car. Cars from cold weather locations should be in worse condition than yours.

According to automotive repair lib.
" Most car batteries only last 4 or 5 years. If you battery is 5 or more years old, it will probably need to be replaced soon. Hot weather is actually harder on batteries than cold weather because it increases the rate of evaporation of the liquid electroyte inside the battery (this is not a problem with gel type batteries)."

I would argue that because the cold weather reveals some problems earlier, cold weather climate cars may be maintained better (cooling systems not withstanding.) That during the life of the car, they be in "better shape because of easier driving conditions with respect to salt and lube deficiency due to cold weather, I agree.

Thanks to all that responded! I appreciate it very much. Based on your recommendations I will bring my car to Chicago.

Engine oil should be what the manufacturer recommends.

You’ve gotten some great tips here.

The only additional thing I can add is to replace your wiper blades with rubber-booted winter blades as soon as you arrive. Regular metal-framed blades easily and quickly become encrusted with ice formations in winter storms and become useless. You’ll end up off the road because of a complete inabiliity to see out the windshield, assuming you can struggle to a safe place without crashing.

A good snow brush and acraper is a must also.

Have a safe trip.

If I had to move to a colder climate, I wouldn’t perform as well. However, I’m not an automobile. As long as the antifreeze protection is set for temperatures down to 30 below, the oil is of the proper viscosity, and the battery isn’t on its last legs your Altima will be fine. It’s you that I’m worried about–but you will be o.k. if you support the White Sox when you get to Chicago.

Good catch, Whitey, on the washer fluid. In McAllen, they simply do not sell washer fluid rated to -20 or more. I was getting low, and in October when I went into the snow belt, I bought several gallons of cold weather fluid to last me quite a while. The problem is, as you imply, if you fill the tank with warm weather fluid, and go north, it is going to freeze solid.

Consumer’s Report some time ago did say there are cold country batteries, and warm weather batteries, and they recommend buying the correct one for where you live. The battery which is optimized for -20 starting may not survive 120 degree weather, etc.

If I had to move to a colder climate, I wouldn’t perform as well.

I sure don’t, which is why when I retired at age 55, I gravitated to Mexico. When I was young, it didn’t matter, but as I got older, I tired of cleaning my windshield every time I drove a block or two to the next errand. And the thought of being in a house when the wind chill is minus 50 or more, and the world is dark as a mushroom pit, does not any more appeal to me.