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Winter Breakdowns - problems caused by extreme cold

By Denbury Diesels Ltd  |  Posted: January 19, 2013

Are you prepared for the cold weather?

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The last 3 winters (2010 to 2012) were among the worst in livingmemory with widespread snow and ice for weeks on end and temperatures regularlydropping well below -10C.

Records tumbled as the AA had its busiest day ever on Monday 4January 2010 and then again, less than 12 months later on Monday 20 December2010 when AA patrols handled more than 28,000 breakdowns.

Battery faults are far and away the most common cause ofbreakdowns at this time of year but such extreme weather throws up some unusualtypes of breakdown as well

 Frozen screenwashers

Not really a breakdown, unless you keep running the pump until it burnsout and blows a fuse affecting something like the immobiliser system! Use a screenwashadditive all year round - undiluted in winter.

Frozen wipers

Trying to operate windscreen wipers stuck solid to the glass can lead toblown fuses affecting other more vital systems. If low temperatures areforecast make sure that automatic windscreen wipers are turned off – so theydon't try to operate when you turn the ignition on. Make sure the wipers aren'tstuck to the glass, before setting off too.

Frozen engines

Due to lack of anti-freeze. Make sure you get it checked regularly andtop-up using a mix of the correct type of anti-freeze.

Stripped teeth oncambelt causing engine damage

Try to start a car with a frozen waterpump and you could strip the teethoff the timing belt leading to expensive internal engine damage.

Frozen door locksand door seals

A squirt of a water-dispersant like WD40 in the locks will help as willa light smear of Vaseline or silicone polish on the door seals. If snow fallsclear it from the car while still soft rather than leaving it for days on end –the car will turn into a block of ice.

Frozen ignitionlocks

It's hard to keep the inside of the car completely dry when it's coldand wet outside but it'll help avoid this rare but annoying problem – don'tleave wet clothes or boots in the car overnight.

Windows frozen totheir frame

Windows can become detached from the mechanism inside the door if youtry to power them down while the windows frozen in the frame. Best left untilthe car's warmed up and the ice melted.

Diesel fuel waxing

In extreme cold, wax crystals form indiesel fuel and can block fuel lines and filters. All diesel sold in the UKbetween 16November and 15 March has to meet the 'Winter diesel standard' which ensures protectionagainst waxing down to -15C. There's not much you can do to avoid it if the temperaturegoes really low – apart from using a garage overnight if you have one andtrying to keep the car warm. Electric fuel filter heaters are available.

Electronic parkingbrake not releasing

If the driven wheels are on an icy road and can't grip it's possiblethat an automatic parking brake won't release.

Frozen rear drumbrakes and handbrake cables

It's good to clean your car regularly through the winter to removecorrosive road salt but not if you use a hose or pressure washer and blastwater inside brake cables or drums and the temperature drops. A drive aftercleaning can help but it's best to take care when hosing wheel arches orwheels.

Frozen alternators

Fortunately very rare, but poor design of under-bonnet drains can leadto water from the windscreen getting into the alternator and freezing therotor. A screaming noise from the 'fanbelt' accompanied by smoke, a burningsmell and a battery warning light on the dash will tell you there's somethingwrong.

Source: theaa.com

If you have any concerns or would like advice please call Denbury Diesels on 01803 220548

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