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Winter Car Repairs to Prepare For

BY: Andrew Giorgi
Top 8 Winter Car Repairs

Owning a vehicle can open up a world of possibilities during the winter months. From traveling to and from work, the store or anywhere else, you can take comfort knowing you won’t be stuck in the cold weather waiting for public transportation or having to pay for a rideshare service.

While having your own car, truck or SUV can give you new freedoms, there are also new responsibilities that come with it apart from filling up the gas tank, getting an oil change, or the occasional car wash. Following your car’s recommended maintenance schedule is the most important thing you can do to help ensure your vehicle stays running properly for longer. 

For those living in areas with harsh winter weather, following your vehicle’s maintenance schedule and recognizing some of the most common repairs you can expect this time of year is vital to getting your vehicle ready for the season ahead.

Top Winter Car Repairs

Regular maintenance is essential for any vehicle, regardless of the time of year, especially during the wintertime. The extreme cold that your vehicle experiences during this time of year can put extra strain on it, potentially causing premature damage to your vehicle and its components. If left unchecked, these issues could eventually lead to more costly and unexpected breakdowns down the road.

Ensure your vehicle is safe from the harsh winter conditions with these top winter car repairs you can prepare for:

#1: Worn or Punctured Tires

Car tire with large cut in it.

With hazards such as ice, snow and debris often in the roadways during the wintertime, it’s important to have tires that are up to the challenge. While purchasing a set of snow tires (or winter tires) can help give you the best overall traction and control, many all-season tires can still be viable options for winter driving. Regardless of what tires you use on your vehicle, ensuring they are free of any damages or excess wear can help make the difference between a smooth ride and unexpected flat or tire blowout. Depending on the make/model of your vehicle, as well as the quality of tires you choose, you could be left paying hundreds of dollars per tire.

What to do: One of the most common causes of tire issues during the wintertime is not having the proper air pressure (PSI) in the tires. This is because air molecules condense in cold weather, taking up less space in your tires. To help in avoiding this issue, be sure to check your tire pressure often, especially on days where there is a drastic drop in temperature. You should also keep up with your car’s recommended tire rotation schedule to prolong the life of your tires, as it can help them wear evenly. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn more about your car’s recommended tire rotation schedule or recommended tire pressure.

#2: Dead Batteries

During the wintertime, your car battery has to work harder to produce power, leading to problems later on. Batteries of vehicles left in storage can also lose their charge. This also isn’t dependent on the season, as extreme heat can often have an even more significant impact on your battery than cold weather. If you do find yourself needing a new battery, the make/model of your car will determine how much a battery replacement will cost you. For example, Ford F-150 owners can expect to pay between $198 and $207 for a new battery, while Honda Accord owners can expect to pay between $184 and $193.

What to do: The first thing you should do is get your car battery checked by either a licensed repair facility or ASE Certified mechanic. You can also purchase a home tester kit if you want to do some DIY maintenance to help prepare your car this winter. If your battery test comes back showing it is lacking a sufficient charge, it may be a good idea to replace the battery now instead of waiting for a potential failure later. If you are storing your vehicle, make sure you keep the battery alive by starting the engine every now and then. 

#3: Worn Front Brake Pads

Working breaks are a must-have during the winter months due to the reduced visibility and slicker roads caused by ice and snow. If your brake pads are overly worn, your car will require even more distance to come to a complete stop, increasing your chance of being in an accident. By having a certified facility or repair professional inspect your brake pads, you can be sure nothing is left to chance when it comes to staying safe on the roads this winter. If you find that your brake pads need to be replaced, you can expect to pay upwards of $274, depending on your vehicle’s make and model. Additionally, while putting you at a greater risk for an accident, failing to replace overly worn or faulty brake pads can also lead to issues with your brake rotors, which will cost you upwards of $404 to replace, along with the cost of replacing your brake pads.

What to do: As one of the most important safety features of any vehicle, it’s always recommended to let a certified repair facility or professional replace your brake pads. With that said, you can still listen for the telltale signs of brake pad wear, such as hearing a grinding or squeaking noise when braking. You may also notice other issues, such as the brake pad itself feeling spongy or it taking longer distances for you to stop (in dry conditions). You can also physically check your brake pads yourself by seeing if they are worn below 3/32 inches. If they are, it’s time to replace them.

#4: Misfiring Spark Plugs

A fully functioning set of spark plugs are what is needed to ensure your engine starts and runs smoothly. This is especially vital during the winter, as colder temperatures make the ignition process more challenging. Some of the most common signs of faulty spark plugs will be decreased fuel economy, engine misfirings, or failure to start in general. You may even see more exhaust fumes.

If you are experiencing issues with your vehicle’s spark plugs, you can change them at home in a few simple steps. However, if you’re not comfortable doing so, visiting your local mechanic is recommended, though this can cost you $191 and $250.

What to do: If you’re having trouble starting your car’s engine or are experiencing juddering or increased exhaust fumes, you might have faulty spark plugs. If so, visit a repair facility or reference your vehicle’s owner’s manual to learn how to replace your spark plugs at home.

#5: Faulty Clutch

If you own a manual transmission and notice a burning smell coming from it, are experiencing a sticky or spongy clutch pedal, or notice a gear slipping, you may have issues with your clutch. If so, you should take your car to be seen by a licensed repair facility or certified professional as soon as possible to avoid any further (and expensive) damages, as replacing a faulty clutch can cost over $1,375! Not to mention that a faulty or damaged clutch can often result in premature damage to other components, adding to an already expensive repair bill.

What to do: The clutch is typically a very durable component, but it does wear over time and will eventually need to be replaced. The extra strain of colder temperatures and the potential for more frequent gear shifting due to winter driving can often lead to clutch issues during the winter months. To help limit this extra stress, be sure to avoid riding the clutch to help prolong its life. Staying up-to-date on your car’s maintenance schedule can help extend the life of your car’s clutch.

#6: Worn or Broken Timing Belt

A car’s timing belt is crucial in helping to keep your vehicle running without issues. Specifically, your timing belt works to synchronize the movements of your camshaft (the component that moves the valves of your engine) and your crankshaft (what moves the engine pistons).

Like other heavily used components of your vehicle, your timing belt can become worn from the friction and heat generated by the car’s engine, resulting in potential cracking. If the timing belt does eventually break completely, you’ll know about it instantly, as your car’s engine will either stop or see a drastic loss of power immediately. While cheaper than replacing a faulty clutch, replacing a worn or broken timing belt can still be a costly repair, with costs going as high as $743.

What to do: The best way to avoid any significant timing belt damage is to adhere to the recommended maintenance instructions in your owner’s manual. Here you can find the intervals to change the timing belt and make sure its condition is checked as part of your essential routine maintenance. If you notice that your timing belt is near or past the replacement date, there is a good chance that it’s becoming brittle, and the extra heat in the hard-working engine in winter can push it to its breaking point.

Get Your Vehicle Ready for Winter with EnduranceAdvantage

Following your car, truck or SUV recommended maintenance schedule can help you avoid any unexpected and costly repairs. You can also get peace of mind when it comes to protecting and maintaining your vehicle with an EnduranceAdvantage breakdown protection plan. As the most comprehensive auto protection package on the market, each EnduranceAdvantage package can help you save thousands on auto repairs while providing up to $3,500 in regular maintenance. That includes essential services such as up to three oil and filter changes, engine diagnostic exams, tire rotations, PSI checks and more — at no additional cost to you. You can also receive several other special, one-time services for even more coverage and savings, including cooling system maintenance, a brake pad/shoe replacement, a front or rear wiper blade set replacement and more.

Endurance customers can get immediate access to a number of other Elite Benefits for an entire year with the purchase of ANY Endurance protection plan and a small activation fee. These Elite Benefits include a number of great perks, such as 24/7 roadside assistance, tire repairs and replacements, key fob replacements and more so you can rest easy knowing Endurance has you covered any time of the year.

To learn more about how Endurance can help protect you and your vehicle, give us a call directly at (800) 253-8203 or by requesting a free quote. Be sure to visit our Learning Center to find even more helpful and informative articles on various automotive topics, including expert auto tips, vehicle buying guides, and more.

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