Why won’t my car start in cold weather? Top tips to get your engine back on track

FROSTED windows, frozen roads, engines that won’t start and snow are just a few of the things we need to prepare for this winter.

We can’t help you all, but we can explain what you can do if your car won’t start with our guide to getting you back into gear.

Cars - like most people - don't respond well to cold weather


Cars – like most people – don’t respond well to cold weather

Why won’t my car start?

Unlike humans who need layers of clothing to withstand the cold, cars also need a little preparation to be able to go.

When cars don’t start, it’s usually because their engine oil has thickened as it cools, increasing friction and making it harder for the starting engine to turn.

Cold, wet weather can sometimes adversely affect the battery because the vehicle’s electrical system has to work harder.

The RAC says the majority of its winter calls are related to car batteries.

Should I leave my car running to warm it up?

Avoid doing this if you can. Leaving your car’s engine running before you start driving doesn’t actually help the engine, but only increases your fuel consumption and emissions.

Cars older than 20 years need to start up to ride in cold weather.

But most modern engines regulate their temperature accordingly, so auto experts say you shouldn’t let your car run for more than 30 seconds before driving.

But what about defrosting my car?

Pouring hot water over a frosted windshield might seem like a good idea, but it can actually lead to the glass breaking if there are any small cracks in your screen.

According to meteorologist Ken Weathers, the best method is to make your own solution using rubbing alcohol and water from a spray bottle.

Mr. Weathers said he mixes 1/3 cup water with 2/3 cup alcohol to create a defrost spray. It works because rubbing alcohol has a freezing point of -128°C.

Always keep the car window ice scraper in the car as a backup.

How to solve car battery problems

To try and prevent battery problems from happening in the first place, you can charge the battery at least once a week during the winter months, especially if the battery is more than three years old.

Car battery comfort level indicator can help monitor its condition. But if your battery isn’t charging well, you should replace it when possible.

There are also a few small things you can do to keep your battery in good condition:

  1. Turn off all loads including lights, wipers, heaters, etc. before turning off the engine at the end of the trip (and make sure they turn off before you turn it on.) This helps prevent draining the battery. unnecessary.
  2. Avoid using heaters, heated screens and heated seats for longer than you must
  3. Park your car in a garage if you can, especially in extreme cold
  4. Check batteries properly, especially if your car is more than four years old

Use the right oil

Check your car’s manual for which oil to use in cold conditions.

Modern synthetic oils flow pretty well in cold weather, as long as you use the right kind.

You will need to use a multi-weight oil, designated by two numbers (such as 10W-40, common).

The first number, with the letter W, is for winter; Lower means it flows more easily.

5W- and even 0W- oils exist, but check your manual. It’s even more important if your car uses regular oil, rather than synthetic oil.

Last resort

And if your car won’t start at all, you may need to use a jump rope – Here’s a guide on how to do it.

For more tips from RAC automotive experts on how to navigate your car in any weather, click here. here.

Finally, read our guide on how to drive in snow and ice here. Why won’t my car start in cold weather? Top tips to get your engine back on track

Caroline Bleakley

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