What to Do if Your Car Won’t Start in the Winter
A crisp winter morning, snow rests on the ground, your breath wisps away from your lips, and…a car that refuses to start. Nothing is more frustrating than standing in the cold, unable to even turn the heat on in your car! When you run into this situation, try these simple steps to quickly get back on the road.
Why won’t my car start?
When it is cold outside, the various fluids in your car can thicken up, causing blockages and even possible leaking within the tubes of your car! More likely, however, your car’s battery quickly loses its power as the weather gets cold, making it difficult to generate enough current for your engine to turn over. An already-weak battery can become completely useless in cold weather, leaving you stranded in the driveway.
Cycle your engine
Sometimes, your car battery can benefit from a quick warmup. First, make sure your interior lights, radio, headlights, and other electrical components are set to off, so they aren’t sucking any power from the battery. Then, put your key in the ignition and rotate it between “off” and “start” between ten and fifteen times. This can help warm the battery and engine components, helping your battery produce enough current to turn the engine.
Check your engine oil
Low engine oil can put additional strain on your battery, becoming a critical issue when your battery is weak from the cold. Pop open the hood of your car and use a dipstick to check the level of your engine oil. If it is low, follow the information in your owner manual to top up your car. Then, try starting the car again.
Check the battery connection
If your engine oil is full, leave the hood open and inspect the terminals on the battery. If you see any crusty substance or loose connections, it is likely time to clean and tighten the electrical connections of your battery. Make sure that you are wearing protective gloves and goggles, then disconnect the battery clamps, starting with the negative clamp. Use a mixture of baking soda and water to scrub the terminals, then reconnect them, starting with the positive end. Ensure that the clamps are tight and have a solid connection, then try the ignition once again.
Jumpstart the battery
If the previous methods haven’t addressed the issue, jumpstarting the car is a last resort before calling a repair service. Call a friend (or local good Samaritan) with a running car to provide a charged battery to jump from. With both car engines turned off, use jumper cables to connect the positive battery terminals on each car, starting with your dead battery. Then, connect the negative terminal of the working car to an unpainted metal component of your car. Turn on the working car and let the engine run for a few moments before trying to start the dead car. Hopefully it starts up, then disconnect the cables in reverse order, making sure the metal clamps do not touch.
Prepare for the cold!
The best way to address a car that won’t start in cold weather is to ensure that your battery is operating at full capacity. Here at Smith Ford Lowell, we can help you completely avoid a miserable morning with a complimentary battery check, making sure that, when the winter front moves in, you are prepared! Come visit us by searching for a 2022 Ford dealer near me, and, while you’re here, explore the 2022 Ford lineup. Equipped with brand-new batteries and fluid components, you will be best prepared for the colder weather. Never be stuck in the cold again!