During the winter, all kinds of road conditions exist – black ice, frozen bridges, freezing rain, etc. While all these things are important, nothing can be more damaging to a car in the winter is water – and not the kind falling from the sky or freezing on the road – the kind that may be in your radiator.
Some people choose to top off their radiators with just water instead of coolant or antifreeze, which you can get away in the warmer months. It’s a little risky, as water boils at 212° and engines operate near that, but it’s doable in a pinch. In the winter, however, water is dangerous due to it’s high freezing point.
Water freezes at 32°F. Carolina winters may not be extremely brutal, but it isn’t uncommon to drop into the 20’s on a cold January night. This is where problems start. When water freezes, it expands, and it can do some serious damage if given the chance. Radiators that crack in the winter usually do so because water froze. On older engines, it’s even possible to crack the engine block itself. Engine blocks have small little caps, called freeze plugs or core plugs, that are designed to pop out when fluids begin to freeze. If they fail to do so, serious damage can occur.
While engine block cracks are rare, radiator cracks are very common in the winter for this reason. The problem is even bigger today as most modern radiators are now plastic, not metal. It’s important to switch to coolant, which has a much lower freezing point, to prevent this.
The same can be said for windshield washer fluid. While using water only is fine in the summer, in the winter it can freeze and crack your washer fluid reservoir. Not to mention if you need to clear your windshield you can’t! It’s important to at least switch to an all-season blend that has a freezing point below 32°F, but a de-icer blend is probably best.
Have any questions about fluids? Need a fluid exchange? Feel free to call Manchester Auto & Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireOfMintHill