Here's what to do when a car won't start in cold weather
Cold weather can make it hard to start your car, or keep it running smoothly.
Here are some winter weather safety tips to keep you and your car on the road.
Starting your car
Where to park. Parking in a garage, whether heated or not, will keep your car warmer than parking it outside. Even a carport keeps a car several degrees warmer than one parked outside with no protection.
Keeping it warm overnight. Electric engine warming blankets can be easily fitted atop your engine or on the inside of your car hood to keep your engine warm overnight, according to Lifewire.com. Other heaters include block heaters that bolt electrical elements to the exterior of the engine, oil heaters that take the place of a dipstick and coolant heaters to keep the antifreeze from, well, freezing.
Remote starters. These let you to get your car warm and running ahead of time, but they don't work well in very cold weather, such as when engine coolant gels or freezes.
Jumping the battery. It's a good idea to keep jumper cables in your trunk — and to have a relative or good friend to call to help you jump-start your car with his or her running car. Your car's manual will include instructions on how to do this. Read them beforehand, because jumping a car incorrectly can cause your battery to explode. Also, let your car run for at least 20 minutes after it's been jump-started to let the battery recharge or you could face the whole problem again when you try to restart it.
Battery and charging system. Batteries hate cold weather and produce less current, i.e. power, when temperatures plummet. If your car battery is more than three years old, have it checked out by a repair shop or auto-parts store to make sure it still holds a charge. A mechanic can tell you whether the charging system is working correctly.
Right oil mixture. Today's engines prefer high-viscosity oils — such as 5W-20 — that flow through your engine more smoothly in cold temperatures. A thicker oil, such as such as 10W-30, can put more strain on a starter motor and car battery, according to Cars.com. Check your car manual to see what type of oil works best in your vehicle.
Blocked fuel lines. If water gets into your fuel lines, they can freeze up, preventing the flow of gasoline or other fuel to your engine, according to yourmechanic.com. Diesel fuel can gel in very cold weather, meaning that fuel flows much more slowly to the engine. If you have an older vehicle, consider buying dry gas for gasoline engines or fuel conditioner for diesel engines to head off these problems.
Carburetor issues in older cars. Drivers of classic cars or cars built before the mid-1980s also may face carburetor issues if excess moisture freezes and clog the jets. Cars built in the last two decades or so don't have carburetors, so that's one less thing to worry about.
It can be inconvenient or worse, if your car breaks down on the road in extreme cold weather. Consider joining a roadside assistance organization, such as the American Automobile Association, also known as AAA; OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors; Allstate Motor Club or the National Motor Club. Many car dealers offer such memberships along with extended car warranties for repairs — for an added price.
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