Cold Weather and Your Motor Oil

Those dreaming of a white Christmas can usually count on one in Great Falls, MT. These picture-perfect conditions are great when you’re inside with a cup of hot cocoa in your hand and a fire roaring in the fireplace. Outside, however, your vehicle has a lot going on inside its engine, including loss of motor oil viscosity. This can cause a huge problem unless you take necessary precautions to prevent engine damage. Fleet Truck & RV Repair can help. Let’s talk about how cold weather affects your motor oil.

Cold Weather and Motor Oil

You probably already know that synthetic oil stands up better to cold temperatures, so if you haven’t changed your motor oil from conventional to synthetic yet, now is a good time to do so. This said, cold weather can even thicken synthetic oil a bit if the temperatures are below freezing. Two things happen when your car, truck, or utility vehicle’s oil is exposed to freezing temperatures:

  • Icy conditions thicken and slow down the flow of engine oil, conventional more than synthetic
  • Thick oil cannot lubricate the moving parts effectively until it warms up and loosens
  • Thick oil also strains the battery, which is already being affected by the cold weather
  • Warming up your vehicle gets the oil circulating but also uses up more fuel
  • Constant engine warm-ups reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy in the winter

None of this is the end of the world, unless you fire up your car and start driving it right away. When you do this, the motor oil has not had a chance to loosen and flow freely through your engine, and your moving engine parts will rub up against each other without proper lubrication, overheat, and wear away. This, of course, can lead to serious damage over time if you keep doing this.

Other Automotive Fluids Affected By Cold Weather

Motor oil isn’t the only automotive fluid affected by cold weather. Others affected by freezing temperatures include transmission fluid and gear lube, as well as diesel fuel. In the case of transmission fluid, those who drive a stick might notice performance issues more than those who drive automatic transmissions. Transmission fluid thickens just like oil does, making it harder to shift gears.

Gear lubricants are very viscous and tend to stand up to cold temperatures better than motor oil or transmission fluid, but they can still have a hard time turning gears if the lubricant is icy and thick. For those who drive diesels, the fuel contains a wax that crystallizes in frigid weather because of its cetane content. This causes the fuel to gel and clog the fuel filter. An anti-gel additive can prevent this.

Fleet Truck & RV Repair in Great Falls, MT, can get your automobile ready for the winter snow, which is already falling. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

Photo by milanklusacek from Getty Images Signature via Canva Pro