The Extreme Cold – Do’s and Don’ts

The Extreme Cold – Do’s and Don’ts

The Do’s and Don’ts

It has been extremely cold in New England and other states and countries this year.  There are a list of some things that you can do to prevent damage to your vehicle and keep yourself safe as well.

2018 is an Artic Winter this year and it’s extremely cold outside and has a drastic effect on the vehicles we drive. The newer cars have more plastic parts on them, older cars less so. 


Daino_16 from Free Images

DO:  Keep the vehicle’s fluids filled up. It helps keep the engine working properly in the cold weather. If there isn’t enough fluids in the car, the engine could freeze up and crack the block.  The engine block will get cold enough to crack and cause the fluids to leak everywhere… into the parts of the engine it doesn’t belong in or not allow the engine to work at all. 

DON’T:  Leave the fuel level below a 1/4 tank because it may cause the crap in the bottom of the tank to come up and plug up things like the fuel pump or fuel filter(s). (Some cars have more than one fuel filter.)




DO:  Make sure you have a De-icer Washer Fluid in the washer tank to help keep the icing down to a minimum.  Get one that is like -35 Degrees. I’ve found that the -20 degree blue stuff will freeze in the artic cold.  

DON’T: Let the window wash reservoir get empty! If you keep it filled up, it will keep the plastic from cracking and leak out all the fluid. No fluid, no way to defrost the glass. 


uha Lakaniemi on Unsplash

DON’T:  Wash the vehicle in temperatures below 40 degrees F.  Some parts on these cars are made of plastic. Plastic in the cold weather becomes brittle. If you wash the car in HOT water, you will cause one, two or both issues to happen. One – the plastic parts will break. Two – your doors will freeze shut and you won’t be able to open them. Hot water freezes really fast in cold weather. 

DO:  Keep a can of deicer in a warm place. (Most stores carry that item.  Just get an inexpensive can of deicer, they all work regardless of price.) If your doors do freeze, at least you have a way to unfreeze them.  


Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash

DON’T:  Put your defroster on high while warming up the car, as it can cause the glass to break and possibly shatter. It’s dangerous. Let the car warm up first on say the floor setting, then you can put the defroster on low to defog the glass. 

I live in a nice area, so I can get an old blanket from the Salvation Army, Savers or Goodwill store to put over the hood of the car and tuck it into the doors, shut them tight,  to keep the engine area a little warmer.  (I have done that in the past, and the car seems to start easier. )


I hope these tips have helped you. Please drive slower in the snow, sleet, freezing rain and icy roads.  Driving fast in bad weather causes bad accidents, deaths, damage and power outages – it also endangers the First Responders who have to come out into the weather to help you or others. 

Feel free to leave comments and questions below as I check back often. Thank you for visiting!

To Your Safety and Ours…


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20 responses to “The Extreme Cold – Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. Penelope says:

    I had NO IDEA that you could break the windshield when defrosting it, but it does make perfect sense. Glass does shatter in extreme temperature shifts! I also didn’t know it was dangerous to let your fuel tank get below 1/4 tank because it never occurred to me that there would be other crud floating around in there. thanks for the eye opening tips!

  2. Ronnie Jordan says:

    Thank you for the great tips. I am from Chicago where it may not get artic cold but cold enough to make your life miserable when it comes to your automobile. I always make sure I keep gas in my car. That is one of my pet peeves.

  3. Malachi Mcphail says:

    Although a man I am just now learning how to work on a car past changing the oil. Honestly didn’t know the defroster thing. I had no idea it could break the glass. Now is this just the defroster setting or heater in general?

    • If you set the setting to defrost and turn the heat all the way up, and the defroster on, then start the car in really cold weather, the glass may break going from one extreme temperature to another. Glass installers usually tell you to let the car warm up first – so the setting would be maybe for just your feet first. It’s what I do – even though I have the glass replacement on my insurance – I wouldn’t want someone to replace my glass in the extreme cold.

  4. Fred says:

    I think you have some really good information on cars. I grew up working on cars and are very used to junkyards. They were the place to go to get your parts. It looks like you cover about everything.

  5. Valerie says:

    Thanks for this helpful article. I live in Hawai’i so I don’t have to deal with any of this for now, but when I move to Chicago in a few years I’ll be glad that I stumbled upon your article. These are just things that I would never have thought about, especially about freezing your car doors shut with hot water.

  6. Great tips for winter. I live in the Northwest corner of Montana, and we get winter here! I am always aware to keep my gas tank above 1/4 full, but now I know why I do that! Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge with us!

  7. Melinda says:

    It is so cold here in Virginia. I can’t imagine being in New England! These are great reminders for car maintenance. I already knew to do them, but with cold weather upon us, it got me motivated to check! Thanks!

  8. Helen Doyle says:

    Sylvia, although I now live in Australia and don’t have to often worry about the cold, I did grow up in British Columbia. Defrosting the car was the dad’s job. The rest of us waited inside until the car was liveable! Poor dad.

    I remember one NYE when it was so cold in the small city we lived in, that all but 3 cars were frozen. All cars had block heaters but they failed. The 3 cars were plugged in and in heated garages. It was the most accident prone NYE ever. People still went out and slipped and fell everywhere. So many broken bones.

    Now in Australia we do get snow and cold areas. One year we went away for the weekend. We stayed in a motel. It did freeze and snow overnight. The sun was out the next day so we drove the car across the motel lane, into the sun. It wasn’t cold enough to freeze the car but the windscreen was really icy. We don’t carry scrapers! The sun did its job perfectly.

    After we parked and were walking back to the warm room, the man in the next unit came out with a kettle. Before I could yell at him, he tossed it over his windscreen. Well I have never seen a screen explode like that one. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt, except via his wallet. Fortunately we managed to get back into our room before we started laughing. Even unused to the cold that result was very predictable.

    I bet he never did that again!

    Good article and it sounds like your visitors like it.


    • Hi Helen, thanks for the comment and the story – I loved it. It is a lesson learned with the hot water VS cold windshield resulting in extremely painful monetary experience. That’s part of what I do, educate so that it won’t cost people so much money if they know what to do.

  9. Anthony Baxter says:

    Black ice, snowflakes, high winds, adverse weather conditions can put your roadster at risk. There are still many vehicle owners who don’t know how to protect their road companion, especially when the weather turns cold. But honestly, a ton of thanks to Sylvia, for sharing the Do’s and Don’ts of winter car care, that will help many car patents in preventing accidents and malfunctions, and in keeping their auto insurance validated. I think there are some undertakings like- cleaning the interior, swapping the tires, deicing the exterior etc, that need a car professional for effective execution. Better you should call an approved car professional both for the purpose of recommendation and execution. Check out this page- for fixing a service schedule.

  10. Cara Lee says:

    The extreme cold during winter makes the fluids used in the car more viscous. The fluids become thick during winter. So we should use comparatively thinner fluids during this period. We must fill up the level of fluids. It helps to keep the engine working properly. We should have a deicer washer fluid in the washer tank to help to keep the icing down to a minimum. We must put the defroster on high while warming up the car’s engine. Finally we must service our car properly during winter so that it will run for long without any problem.

    • Thank you for your comment. However, I have to disagree on a couple of things…
      If you run the defroster on high while warming up the car, you could shatter the windshield.
      Also, the fluids that the car calls for should be the ONLY ones you use. (I have asked mechanics in the past about this, and they said to stick with what it’s supposed to have.)

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