Cold and Cars: A Problem Combination

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Mike Sutton has more than a decade of experience as a mechanic, but he says it’s early for the cold weather which affected a lot of local vehicles.

"We don't see this weather until January or February," says the ASE certified mechanic. "Being this early and this cold is a surprise."

Sutton says the vehicles brought into Pete and Libby's Vienna repair shop had the usual cold weather problems, including dead batteries and starters and overheating.

He says if your car starts slowly on a cold morning, the starter is probably the culprit, but if the lights go out or dim, the problem is probably in the battery. Fluids need to be checked regularly to see if they're full, and worn out wiper blades can also affect visibility.

"The biggest thing is your electrical system," Sutton says. "If you have a marginal battery or a marginal starter, the cold weather will either knock one or both of them out."

While batteries and starters are a concern, Sutton says another problem is something you don't often think of. Worn belts can also be a problem in cold weather.

"When it gets really cold and you start your car, the belt has set out overnight. When it's a fresh start on a cold belt, it can crack your belts."

While mechanics see problems like this early in the season, keep in mind winter is just beginning.