car driving through heavy snow with bumper and tires covered

When is it Too Cold to be Driving?

Temperatures that can Damage and Diminish Vehicle Performance 

Whether you’re driving an old or new vehicle, winter driving is never pleasant. Moreover, driving on winter roads is often dangerous with plenty of safety hazards and bad drivers to boot. However, there’s one area of risk that most people often ignore. How is the cold temperature affecting your vehicle? At what temperature is it safe to drive your car in the winter?

Gas and Fuel 

The first likely culprit for freezing in cold temperatures are all the fluids in your car. This means the gas, oil, and coolant among others. Now, the gas in your car should be fine as long as you use your car regularly. Additionally, make sure to always keep your tank at least half full. Otherwise, the gas line can risk freezing and breaking. 


Next up, we have oil. Oil effectiveness will vary greatly depending on what grade of oil you have. Different types of oil are designed to work better in lower temperatures. If the oil is used past its limits, then the freezing temperatures can stop fluid circulation, causing it to solidify and stick inside your drivetrain. Generally, in degrees of Fahrenheit, 20W grade oil can work up to 0°, 10W grade oil can work up to -20°, 5W grade oil can work up to -30°, and 0W grade oil can work up to -40°. 

Coolant and Washer Fluid 

Generally, both coolant and washer fluid should work in any freezing temperatures you happen to drive in. Only at -20° for washer fluid and -36° for coolant will you start to have problems. At that point, much like oil, the solutions will begin to thicken and coagulate into frozen sludge and goop. 


Your engine will primarily rely on the fluids listed above, such as gas and oil. But what about your battery? How does that manage in the cold winter? For those who are prone to troubles in other seasons, they might want to consider getting a new battery. At 0° Fahrenheit, batteries become strained and begin to lose power, requiring a great deal of extra fuel to compensate.

tire leaving tread pattern atop ground covered with snow

snow written in snow atop car windshield


Finally, one of the last most important parts of your vehicle to keep an eye on are your tires. As long as your tread is in good condition, they should be able to handle winter roads. However, new or old, cold temperatures will begin to weaken rubber and lose air pressure. This begins to happen at as low a temperature as 45°! However, this is not as critical as your fluids, and the solution is easy. To prevent your tires from wearing and the risk of a flat, simply make sure to check your tire pressure and keep it filled to optimal levels throughout the winter.

Best Winter Driving Features for Volkswagen Vehicles

Keep your car up to snuff, staying healthy and strong this winter. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks to help keep your vehicle in top condition, make sure to check out our blog here at Volkswagen of Kingston. Additionally, check out our inventory either online or on location. Volkswagen of Kingston is located in Kingston, New York within Ulster County.