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How to Start Your Car in Cold Weather – How to Jump Start a Car

Battery, oil, and fuel problems can make a car difficult to start in cold weather.

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.

Try Again

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.

How To Jump Start Your Car – A Step-By-Step Guide

If the above tips don’t work, it’s time for a jump.

You need another car that has the battery fully charged, another driver, eye protection, and a set of battery cables.

Step 1: Park the Second Vehicle Close

Position the running car as close to the car with the dead battery, facing each other if it’s possible, at 80cm (32 inches).

Step 2: Locate the Battery Terminals

Identify the battery terminals on both vehicles. These vital components are usually located under the hood, and understanding their placement is crucial for a successful jumpstart. Some cars have the battery located in the trunk, in the back side of the car, but the “+” terminal is still located under the hood.

The positive (+) terminal is often covered by a plastic cap. The wires used to jumpstart a car are called jumper cables. These cables typically have red and black clamps at each end. The red clamp is designated for the positive terminal (+) on the battery, while the black clamp is for the negative terminal (-).

Step 3: Connect the Cables to the Battery Terminals

Step 1

Attach the red (positive) clamp of the jumper cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery.

Step 2

Connect the other end of the red (positive) cable to the positive terminal of the functioning (donor) vehicle’s battery.

Step 3

Attach the black (negative) clamp of the jumper cable to the negative terminal of the donor vehicle’s battery.

Step 4

Instead of connecting the black clamp to the negative terminal of the dead battery, find an unpainted metal surface on the engine block or frame of the dead vehicle. This helps reduce the risk of sparks near the battery.

For cars that don’t have the battery under the hood, but in the back, cars such as BMW, under the hood near the battery there is an unpainted bolt where you attache the black clamp.

Step 4: Start The Donor Vehicle

Start the engine of the donor vehicle and let it run for a few minutes. This allows the charging system to pump more power into the dead battery.

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.

Step5. Start The Dead Vehicle

Attempt to start the vehicle with the dead battery. If it doesn’t start, check the cable connections and wait a bit longer before trying again.

Step 6: Disconnect the Jumper Cables

Once the dead vehicle is running, carefully disconnect the cables in the reverse order:

Step 1

Remove the black clamp from the grounded metal surface on the previously dead vehicle.

Step 2

Remove the black clamp from the negative terminal of the donor vehicle’s battery.

Step 3

Remove the red clamp from the positive terminal of the donor vehicle’s battery.

Step 4

Finally, remove the red clamp from the positive terminal of the previously dead battery.

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.

Read more:

How to Test a Car Battery With a Multimeter

Can you Wash Your Car in Cold Weather?


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