Before I caved into the idea to junk my car because it refused to start on cold mornings, I decided to do some research on why my car struggles so much when the temperatures are low. It turns out that, of course, not parking my car indoors is clearly ruining something about its engine. The cold seems to affect two vital aspects of my car engine’s performance:
- The motor oil
- The car’s battery
The Motor Oil
Turns out that low temperatures thicken the engine’s motor oil, making it harder to get the engine started because of friction, strain, and what-not. An unreactive engine is a car that refuses to start, and that, of course, only furrows the brow labored with the question, how to start car in cold weather?
More salt to the chilly wound is the fact that cold weather interferes with the performance of the car’s battery. The chemical process that runs the battery is slowed down by low temperatures. The colder the weather gets, the less power the battery is able to produce instantaneously.
But there could be more dysfunction at play that makes me frown when asked: “How to start car in cold weather?”
Water in Fuel
More often than you’d appreciate, cold weather can lead to the fuel lines of your car freezing. When it returns to normal temperatures, water may condense into your car’s fuel lines, mixing with the fuel to lead to a number of complications you most definitely do not want.
Another issue with the fuel line is that low temperatures prevent gasoline from getting to the motor, meaning combustion can no longer take place. Fuel needs to be vaporized for it to be burned, and low temperatures make this harder. So how to start car in cold weather with so many impediments? We aren’t done yet, unfortunately.
Though carburetors have been replaced with fuel injection systems, the occasional 1980 vintage Beetle or 1990 Ford model will present a carburetor device. Carburetors mix gasoline with oxygen for the combustion of fuel. In cold temperatures, the choke of a carburetor may struggle to close properly, leading to a car’s engine to start slower than usual or not start at all.
Unfortunately, if none of the above problems seem to be the cause of your morning vehicular woes and your car uses a fuel injection system instead of a carburetor, you might need to visit an auto mechanic close to you to get your car checked. If your car seems to be beyond fixing, it’s best to give up your car to an agency that returns cash for junk cars.
So, I now know my car isn’t starting because of one of the above issues and I can’t go to an auto mechanic every morning. So how to start car in the cold?
How to start my car in cold weather?
As we’ve discussed so far, a number of factors influence how responsive your car’s engine is to ignition every morning. But the ability to regulate these factors is much more in your hands than you think. At the end, how to start car in cold weather all boils down to good car maintenance and adequate precautionary measures pre-winter.
The Fuel Line
When it comes to keeping your fuel from freezing, mixing with water, or turning into a gel (in the case of diesel) during the winter, the most effective solution is also the most obvious one - store your car in a dry, preferably indoor location. Warmer environments will eventually help the fuel and fuel lines return to normalcy so that your car can function normally.
Another important answer to how to start car in cold weather is to keep your gas tank full. A full gas tank decreases the empty space available for condensation to occur. If anything, a full tank can protect you from another far-too-frequent winter occurrence: getting stranded and not having enough gas.
Also consider using fuels that are treated with an additive to keep them optimally flowing, even at low temperatures.
The Car Battery
More often than not, the answer to how to start car in cold weather will be connected to your car’s battery. That’s why it’s important to keep your battery fully charged during the winters, and to prevent the cold from affecting its performance by wrapping it up in an electric battery blanket or storing your car in a warm and dry location. Also remember to turn off any devices that use your car’s battery, such as the radio, A/C, or lights. If your car still doesn’t start, you can tighten or clean your car’s battery cables or get a jumpstart.
Since your motor oil may thicken during the winter, it’s best to first check the engine’s dipstick for low oil levels. If this is indeed the case, add some oil that is cold-weather-compatible, and you should be good to go.
The Right Kind of Check
Getting a mechanic to check your car before winter starts can save you from all kinds of vehicular mishaps when the cold weather hits. Make sure that they check the following components: The battery, alternator, oil, coolant, fuel pump, spark plugs, and starter system.
How often should I start my car in cold weather?
Keeping your car active during the winter is important to disallowing dysfunction from creeping in. Consider starting your car at least once every day during the winter to make sure that it is in optimal condition. This helps you learn of any possible unwanted conditions and easily mitigate them by applying all the checks and measures required to help it fight the cold!
While the upkeep of a car is generally demanding, it only grows more important to be on top of your car’s well-being during cold weather. However, if your car is old and far past the effort required to maintain it during winter, you can always give your car to an agency in your locality that returns cash for clunkers, regardless of their condition.