Cold and your vehicle

Black ice, low tire pressure, and potholes. Ugh!
Posted at 8:54 PM, Jan 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-19 20:54:29-05

We all know winter can wreck havoc on our vehicles. From potholes to low tire pressure to black ice. Winter weather and the cold can put stress on your vehicle. Consumer Reports suggests getting a winter check up, including checking your battery, topping off all fluid levels, replacing wiper blades, and considering new tires. Did you know that at 0°F your battery has about half the cranking power that it has at 80°? If your vehicle is parked outside, remember to clear all windows AND the roof of snow. And TAKE IT SLOW if weather conditions warrant extra care.

Monday morning will be the coldest of the season with temperatures in the teens and wind chills near 5°. Don't be surprised if your tire pressure light comes on. Tires can lose around 1 psi per 10 degree drop in temperature. Gay-Lussac's Law states that pressure of a given amount of gas held at a constant volume is directly proportional to the Kelvin temperature. As the temperature goes down, the pressure falls goes down, and vica versa. The recent quick drop in temperature could mean that your tires are under-inflated. Normal tire pressure varies vehicle to vehicle but is in the range of 29 to 35 psi. Low tire pressure can impact steering and traction. So can the tread wear.

Then there's the dreadful pothole! Pretty soon it's going to be like you're in a game of Mario Cart driving along New Circle Road dodging potholes. Traffic causes regular wear and cracks in the road surface over time. The early stage of "pothole development" begins when rain or melted snow seeps through those cracks in the pavement. The water then pools under the road surface. When the temperature drops below freezing, the water freeze and expands. The weakness in the roadway is forced upwards, forming a mound of pavement. As temperatures warm back above-freezing, the ice melts and a gap forms under the road surface. Traffic breaks down the weakened road surface. Pavement collapses and a pothole forms.