When the weather starts to get cold, many drivers find that their cars won’t start. The battery is a very frequent cause of this problem. However, sometimes it isn’t the battery – there are a number of other reasons why your car may not start in the cold, and it’s important to know what they are so you can take the appropriate steps to fix the problem.
In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common reasons your car may not start in the cold. We’ll also provide tips on how to prepare your car ahead of the winter season so that you’re not blindsided by a dead car as often. Let’s get started!
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Common Reasons Your Car Won’t Start in the Cold
There are many reasons that your car won’t start in the cold, and it doesn’t always have to be the battery. Let’s look at a few other possibilities and some suggestions on how to fix some of them:
Yes, we did just say that it isn’t always the battery, but hear us out. One of the most common reasons why your car won’t start in the cold is not just because of the battery itself – it’s because of the corrosion on the battery.
The battery itself might be fine, but if there is a chemical reaction of battery acid touching the metal on the battery terminals, corrosion will occur and that can prevent the flow of electricity.
If you suspect that corrosion is the problem, you can try to clean it off with a wire brush and then jump-start your car with jumper cables.
2. Old Alternator
Another common reason for a car not starting in the cold is an old alternator. The alternator is responsible for charging the battery, and if it isn’t working properly, that can lead to a dead battery. If you think your alternator might be the problem, call up the tow truck and take your car to a mechanic to see about replacing it.
3. Fuel Line Blockage
Another common reason for a car not starting in the cold is a fuel line blockage. If you have never heard of this before, a fuel line blockage is when the fuel lines in your car become blocked, preventing gasoline from reaching the engine. This can happen because of condensation that forms in the fuel lines.
Your fuel system includes a number of car parts: the fuel tank, the fuel line, the fuel pump, the fuel injector, and the fuel filter. And actually, any or all of these parts can become blocked by condensation, preventing gasoline from reaching the engine.
This is because, when that moisture freezes, it can block the flow of gas to the engine. Of course, if this happens, you won’t be able to start your vehicle. If you find yourself in this predicament, you will want to warm your car so that your fuel line will thaw.
4. Starter Motor
If your car has been sitting for a while in the elements, it’s possible that the starter motor won’t work. Your starter motor is what starts your engine, and if there is too much friction from thick engine oil, your starter won’t start the car.
However, if your starter is bad, then even jumpstarting your car won’t get it up and running. You will probably need to have your car towed to a repair shop.
5. Sluggish Car Liquids
As the mercury dips, so do the efficiency of your car’s liquids. Some of these liquids include your gasoline (especially if your vehicle uses diesel fuel in your gas tank), transmission fluid, antifreeze, and engine oil. Let’s look at each of these separately.
Diesel fuel can gel at low temperatures. As a result, if you have a car that uses diesel fuel, you may find that it is more difficult to start in cold weather.
One way to prevent this problem is to add a winter fuel additive to the fuel mixture in your tank before the cold weather hits. And always run your diesel engine for a bit to warm up before you drive it in extremely cold weather.
Transmission fluid is another liquid that can be affected by cold weather. If the transmission fluid is too thick, it can cause problems with your car’s moving parts. This can make it difficult for your car to shift gears and may prevent it from starting altogether.
If you think this might be the problem, you should check the level of transmission fluid and add more if necessary. You’ll need to let the transmission fluid thaw if it is completely frozen. However, if you are able to start your car, let it run for a bit to warm up the fluid.
Antifreeze is another liquid that can be affected by cold weather. It is added to the coolant in your radiator to help the coolant keep moving even in low temperatures, but even so, if your winter climate is especially cold, your antifreeze can still freeze. You may want to use an antifreeze that is specially formulated for harsh weather climates.
As with everything else, you can also try to keep your coolant from freezing by parking your car in a warmer area, such as a garage or carport.
Finally, engine oil can also be another common fluid preventing your car from starting in the cold. When the temperature drops, the oil in your engine can thicken and become less effective. This can put an additional strain on the engine block and make it more difficult for your engine to start.
And if your car already has low oil levels, then that makes it all the harder to get the oil pushed through your car’s system.
If you suspect that this is the problem, check your owner’s manual to see what the recommended oil type and oil level are for your car. It may specify that you should use a thinner oil viscosity than what you’ve been using. Or you may even want to consider switching to synthetic oil if you are not already using that because it is designed to withstand the cold better.
6. Faulty Spark Plugs
If your car has been sitting for a while, it’s possible that the spark plugs need care. If they are faulty, it can prevent them from sparking and igniting the fuel in your car’s engine. As a result, your car may not start.
To fix this problem, clean the spark plugs or replace them if necessary.
7. Carburetor Problems
Lastly, another common reason why your car may not start in the cold is because of carburetor problems. The carburetor mixes the air and fuel together before it goes into the engine.
While this is a problem only in older vehicles, it is still quite possible. You will want to tune your carburetor for the cold weather ahead of time, and try to park in a warm place to keep the cold air from affecting its ability to function.
How Do I Get My Car Ready for a Cold Winter?
Now that we’ve looked at some of the most common reasons why your car may not start in the cold, let’s look at how you can prepare your car for winter.
1. Check Your Car Battery
A weak battery will have a harder time starting your car in the cold weather, so be sure it is in good condition. You should also clean the battery terminals and make sure they are free of corrosion.
2. Check Your Fluid Levels
You should also check the levels of all the fluids in your car, including the oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, etc. You may need to add more of these fluids if they are low.
3. Check Your Windshield Wipers
You will want to replace your windshield wipers so that they are in good condition. Winter can cause the rubber on the wipers to become brittle and break. And good wipers come in handy when sweeping snow off your windshield!
4. Check Your Tires
Before the winter months come, make sure that your tires are properly inflated (or replaced if they’re bald). This will help to prevent them from getting flat in the cold or slipping as much on ice.
5. Check if You Need Other Accessories
Additionally, you may want to consider getting other accessories for your car. These can include a battery blanket, a block heater, or a trickle charger. They can keep cold batteries and other car parts moving smoothly.
You can find items like these online or through your local auto parts store.
6. Prepare a Winter Emergency Kit
Finally, you should also prepare a winter emergency kit for your car. This should include things like jumper cables, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, crackers, and blankets.
If your car won’t start in the cold, don’t panic. There are a number of things you can do to troubleshoot the problem and get your car started again. Not only that, but there are also many ways to prepare your vehicle ahead of time so that cold temperatures don’t take you by surprise!
Of course, if all else fails, you can always call a tow truck and get your car to a trained mechanic to assess and fix the problem. Rest assured, no matter what, you will be in good hands.
What other ways do you prepare and then maintain your car through the cold? Let us know in the comments below!