Cold weather presents unique challenges for starting a vehicle. Low temperatures can cause vehicle fluids to thicken, eroding the lubrication and causing more friction in the engine. When your car is exposed to cold weather it can lead to some problems that may mean it won’t be able to start, especially older vehicles with carburetors. On a cold winter, your “battery” level is low, so maybe the car is too. Cold weather also lowers battery power, which reduces your car’s ability to turn over the engine and get started.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to make cold-weather starting easier, including warming up your car beforehand and ensuring that your vehicle has sufficient fuel
PS: Electrical vehicles and hybrids are not immune to these days.
Related article: Electric Cars in the Winter – Guide
Before Starting your Car in Cold Weather
Turn Everything Off
Your battery needs to focus all its energy on starting your vehicle, that’s important to turn off all electronics such as the headlights, radio, heater/blower, windshield wipers, etc.
Try to Start Your Car
Turn on the key to start and hold it for up to 10 seconds, no longer.
If it doesn’t start but the dashboard lights up, there is at least some charge in the battery (a good sign).
If there is ticking but with no engine turnover, the battery maybe doesn’t have enough power and you should take a look at the point where we explained how to jump-start a battery.
If your engine is close to starting but won’t, give it a break and try starting it again. If it doesn’t start after a few tries, you can take the battery inside your home/garage to warm it up.
After warming (from very cold weather, it may take up to 2 hours), place it back in your vehicle, and see if it will start.
Jumping a Dead Battery
If those tips don’t work, it’s time for a jump.
You need another car that runs well, another driver, eye protection, and a set of battery cables.
Position the running car as close to the car with the dead battery, facing each other if it’s possible
Hook up the jumper cables to the terminals. First, look for the + and – symbols and connect the one with the + symbol to the positive terminals on both cars, and then attach the cable with the – symbol to the negative terminals (Note that the black clamp on the “dead” car must be connected last to an unpainted engine bolt or to the mounting bracket of the alternator, not the battery terminal, this is to avoid a short circuit.) If this didn’t work make sure you connect the clamps properly.
Allow the dead battery to charge for a few minutes (it may be helpful to rev the car a bit, 2000 rpm is plenty). When the weather is cold, first let the water warm up to 90 degrees C before revving it up to 2000 rpm, in this time the oil also has time to lubricate all the necessary pipes.
You can test your old battery with a Car Battery Tester. Replace the battery if necessary to avoid all the above procedures without getting stressed when the cold weather comes.
Or, if you don’t have a “donor” vehicle, you can use a portable jump starter for an easier approach.
Tips for preventing cold-weather engine trouble
Check the Battery
Ensure that your battery is in optimal condition for your living area. Your trusted mechanic can test it to make sure it is ready for the following winter, or you can do it yourself with a Car Battery Tester or a multimeter that you’re using for other needs.
A car battery tester is a device used to test the health and charge level of a car battery. It can be a simple tool that just measures the voltage of the battery or a more advanced tester that also checks the battery’s ability to hold a charge, the internal resistance of the battery, and the condition of the battery’s cells.
Keep Your Fuel Tank Full
Keeping the fuel tank full prevents condensation from forming in the tank. Condensation can occur when warmer, humid air enters the tank and cools, causing the moisture to turn into water droplets. This water can then freeze in the fuel lines, causing blockages and preventing the engine from running.
Keep Your Car Warm
Your battery and engine oil doesn’t like cold, keep your car protected by parking it in a garage (a heated one is great).
The winter months can be stressful for your vehicles. Without adequate protection, both the interior and exterior of your car can suffer from cold damage. Luckily, a full car cover can help you keep temperatures inside your vehicle at an ideal temperature without exposing it to damaging elements. A car cover is a must-have item if you want to keep your vehicle in good shape.
When it comes to cold weather, a high-quality cover can provide excellent protection against frost and snow. If you’re looking for the best option available and don’t want to spend hours researching different brands or models, then these products sold on Amazon are perfect for you! Also, our article 10 Best Car Covers for Hail, Snow, and Ice Protection can convince you and clarify what kind of protection to choose for your car for the winter season.
Use the Correct Oil
Check your owner’s manual for what type of oil to use in cold conditions. Usually, a 5W oil is recommended for cold weather, but synthetic oils can be specially formulated to flow even more easily in cold weather.
Keep the Water Out
Putting a dry gas additive in your fuel tank helps remove water from gasoline to prevent your fuel lines from freezing. Your fuel may come with additives straight from the pump, so check at your pump station before putting anything else in your fuel tank.
Starting a car in the winter can be a challenge due to the cold weather and potential battery issues. However, by taking a few simple steps, such as keeping your battery charged, using a block heater, and keeping the fuel tank full, you can ensure that your car will start quickly and smoothly.
Additionally, it is important to check the condition of your battery, keep your tires properly inflated, and avoid using the parking brake in freezing weather. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your car will start in the winter and you will be on your way with minimal delay.
How to Test a Car Battery With a Multimeter