Will driving a car in extremely cold weather damage it [need answer fast]

My definition of extremely cold may not be other people’s, but if the temps are -15F to -25F, and the windchill is -40F to -60F can driving a car damage it in any way at those temperatures?

Assume it has 5w20 oil and a 50/50 mix of water/antifreeze as coolant. Can any of that become too viscous at cold temps like the ones above to the point where it damages engine components?

Do you have winter oil and winter antifreeze in the car? Your block can crack if you don’t have antifreeze in your radiator that is rated to the temperature your car is in (this has happened to me when I forgot to winterize my car one year). Driving the car isn’t the problem - your fluids in the car freezing is the problem.

5W20 and 50/50 antifreeze should be fine.

How do you think those of us to the north make it through every winter? It’s suggested that you let the car warm up for a few minutes, but I rarely do and have never had an issue.

I bought the car used, I have no idea what kind the previous owner used. Looking at 50/50 antifreeze mixes they say they freeze around -35F.

Would wind chill make a difference with a car? Convection would apply to fluids, I would assume. But those are so deep within the engine that I doubt much/any wind would get there.

wind chill is not applicable to in-animate objects or fluids - it is strictly a ‘feels like’ affect on skin.

Wind chill doesn’t matter for cars. The base temperature is all you need to worry about, and -35 is plenty safe.
ETA: Or what simster said.

I assumed in the more arctic regions people used 0w20 oils or 70/30 antifreeze.

Driving it isn’t going to hurt anything as when the engine is running, everything is raised above their respective freezing temperatures. Leaving a car sitting in temperatures below any of it’s fluids freezing points can damage it. In extreme cold situations it’s best to leave the car running.

on you huskies.

wind chill does apply to inanimate objects.

it can not make it colder than the actual temperature, so it doesn’t affect a car starting that has sat overnight.

it does affect how fast a warm object will loose its heat.

Not here in the coldest capital city in the world. 5W20 and 50/50 is just fine. We reach -40 once in a while and I’ve never had issues.

Weak batteries are the biggest issue. I think Canadian Tire must have sold a kajillion of them in the last week.

I have read that Ulan Bator is the coldest capital city in the world. I would also think that Moscow might be colder than Ottawa. And have you really reached -40? The coldest temperature ever recorded in Montreal was -37 C (about -35 F) in January, 1976 I think. During the big chill last week, the coldest here was -27 C.

Unless you have a cite from a manufacturer, I will claim that manufacturers do not suggest letting the car warm up for a few minutes. Anyone who wants the straightest dope possible can consult the owner’s manual in the glovebox of their own car.

I let my car idle for maybe twenty seconds before driving away - and I only wait that long because it idles oddly if I touch the gas pedal before that point.

The amount of heat that goes into the engine components is approximately proportional to the mechanical power being delivered by the engine. In other words, if the engine makes more power, it will warm up faster. OTOH mashing the pedal to the floor before pistons and cylinders are up in their normal operating temperature range is likely to cause damage. Best advice is to start it, let it stabilize for maybe ten seconds, and then drive away in a moderate fashion; just take it easy on the gas pedal for the first mile or so.

Some suggestions I’ve heard with people with cars in Alaska is keep them running in the very cold, if you shut them off don’t expect them to restart till it warms up.

Also windchill does matter, well wind does, with anything with it’s own generated or stored heat. In still air the car, due to the engine running and heater on, will get a little ‘bubble’ of warmer air around it heated by the car. Put in a wind and that small bubble of warmer air will be blown away.

Fluids are not your only concern. All the rubber parts will be less flexible in severe cold. in the cold. Belts that seemed fine may fail.

What I see is that most vehicles will idle fast for about 10 seconds or so. I always wait until the idle gets down to normal and then feel I’m good to go.

If I’m in a hurry.

I usually warm up the car for 10-15 minutes so I have some heat in the cabin before I start driving. But that’s only when the car is at home, and I can safely let it idle while I go back inside. I would never bother to wait if I was leaving work at the end of the day or something.

The battery died last night so none of this matters. Awesome. It worked yesterday, I’m not sure what went wrong.

I think it may be too dead to jump. Someone tried jumping it (they only did it for a minute though before having to go to work) and it did nothing.

Less of a concern with newer cars, but older cars (especially older diesels) did indeed have trouble at very low temps.

Back in the 1980’s, a friend and I were planning to come home from college one Friday. with daytime temps in the single digits, his diesel VW Rabbit would not start on its own. So early on Friday morning we had another friend tow it around the parking lot until the engine started firing on its own, and then he drove it for twenty minutes to warm it up. He went out and started/ran it a few hours later, and again a few hours after that, to keep the engine block somewhat warm until late in the day when it was time for us to finally leave.

It got cold last night. That’s what “went wrong”.
Electricity from batteries is an electro-mechanical process. The process is less efficient at lower temperatures. Also, the engine is harder to turn-over at low temps due to oil thickening, metal contracting and rubber seals, etc. being much less pliable.
You can not jump a battery in a minute.
Your battery and car will probably be fine once they warm up a bit.

I don’t believe it’s correct to say it’s less efficient. Rather, it’s slower: your starter motor is an electron spillway that lets electrons out of the battery at a prodigious rate, and when the battery is cold, the chemical reaction that produces more high-energy electrons happens too slowly to keep up with demand.