If your check engine light (CEL) ever came on while you were driving in cold weather, you might have questioned if the two were connected. While there are several probable causes for the CEL, cold temperatures may play a role in its activation. In this post, we’ll examine how driving in cold weather may affect your car and possibly cause the CEL to illuminate, as well as what you can do to avoid this from happening.
The Causes of Check Engine Light
Reviewing some of the most typical reasons of the CEL will help us better understand how cold weather can affect this warning light. A number of problems, such as malfunctioning catalytic converters, faulty ignition and fuel systems, and faults with oxygen sensors, can cause the CEL to illuminate. These problems can arise at any time, but the colder months might make them worse.
Systems that control emissions are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures. For these systems to work properly, pressure and heat must be carefully balanced. When temperatures drop, the system may have a harder time keeping this equilibrium, which could result in the CEL turning on.
The ignition and fuel systems in your car may also be affected by cold weather. Fuel can become thicker in subfreezing conditions, making it more challenging to start an engine. This may result in problems like a rough idle and low fuel efficiency. Additionally, freezing temperatures can be harsh on ignition systems, which could make it difficult to start an engine.
Cold weather can have an impact on oxygen sensors, which are in charge of calculating the amount of oxygen in the exhaust. These sensors may become less precise when temperatures drop, which could result in the CEL turning on.
Finally, catalytic converters may be impacted by the cold. It can be more challenging for these crucial emissions control devices to reach and maintain the required working temperature when temperatures drop because they depend on heat to operate properly. Performance may suffer as a result, and the CEL may turn on.
Symptoms of a Cold Weather-induced CEL
There are a few telltale indications to watch out for if you think the cold may be contributing to your CEL. These include a rough idle, decreased engine performance, low fuel economy, and trouble starting the engine. It’s crucial to remember that these symptoms could present differently in chilly temperatures.
For instance, decreased engine performance may be more noticeable in colder weather because heavier fuel and more difficulty starting the engine may make it more difficult for your car to operate at its best. Similar to how an engine may struggle to start and maintain the proper operating temperature in the cold, low fuel economy may be more noticeable.
Prevention and Maintenance
So, how can you stop your CEL from lighting up in the cold? Keeping your car well-maintained and up to date on all scheduled maintenance is your best line of defense. By doing this, you can make sure that any possible problems are found and fixed before they become a problem.
Protecting your car from the cold is a further crucial action to take. The danger of the CEL turning on might be decreased by parking your car in a garage or covering it with a car cover to protect it from inclement weather.
Additionally, it’s crucial to apply the right kind and amount of oil during cold weather. Your engine needs to be kept oiled to function properly, which is crucial during the colder months when the oil can thicken.
Last but not least, remember that avoiding a cold weather-related CEL requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. It’s critical to take care of any problems as soon as you become aware of them rather than waiting for them to get worse. It’s crucial to get your CEL checked out by a specialist as soon as possible if it does turn on. An expert mechanic will be able to identify the problem and provide the necessary fixes.
Even if the cold weather is not the actual cause of the CEL, it is crucial to keep in mind that it may exacerbate or even highlight underlying problems. On chilly days, it is best to keep an eye out for any unusual behavior from your car and have a mechanic inspect it.
Although the cold itself may not necessarily trigger your CEL to activate, it can undoubtedly help by aggravating underlying problems. A cold weather-related CEL can be avoided with proper maintenance, wrapping your car in blankets to shield it from the elements, and prompt diagnosis and repair. It’s crucial to get your CEL checked out by a pro as soon as you can if you do notice that it turns on. Don’t disregard any unexpected behavior because the cold weather may impact the car and make problems more noticeable.