Questions: Concerning the Chemistry of Winterizing Your Car in the Charlotte Area during a Cold Winter


Recently, with cold weather that varies every three or four days, several customers and friends asked for help with their auto window cleaning problems.

Question: My windshield cracked recently, was it the cold weather that cracked it?

Answer: Some auto windshields are made of non – porous glass and the water will lay on the surface and freeze, thereby, forming a crack able plate. I suggest that you should avoid sudden temperature changes by not using boiling water to defrost your frozen windshield. Firstly, scrape the ice off, and then; turn on the defroster and let the cold windshield gradually warm - up. Then, spray and wipe clean with a de – icier that certifies on the label that it can withstand temperatures as low as a -25 degrees.

Question: Why do we need antifreeze in our cars in the winter months? Should I use straight anti – freeze when it gets really cold.

Answer: 50/50 antifreeze is a mixture of ethylene glycol and water – cheaper. Straight anti-freeze is 100% ethylene glycol, so it is more concentrated and there are no water molecules to freeze up. Remember, the objective is to keep the radiator from freezing by lowering the freezing point of the solution in the radiator. If the weather is below 25 degrees centigrade, I would suggest that you spend a few extra dollars.

Q. Should I switch to high octane fluid in the winter? If so, what are the benefits?

A. It has been found that if compared by the tank full - on the average - the higher octane gas gets better mileages. Moreover, in the cold, icy weather a higher octane can help you accelllerate better, and improve compression and efficiency. These attributes of high octane gas, can also help you start quicker, climb a hill and maybe get out of a ditch. Please remember to read your manual!

Q. Does my tire pressure increase during the winter? If so, are they still safe?

A. It’s cold outside, but your tire pressure is increasing because air inside your tire is heating up because the kinetic energy inside the tires increase as the air molecules becomes excited. Thereby causing the tire pressure to expand. But the computer warns you through your T.P.M. (tire pressure monitoring system) because under or over inflated tires can cause problems with handling and fuel economy. You will find that driving with the correct tire pressure – especially in the hilly piedmont area – will also give you a smoother ride and help prevent skids.