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Why Your Car Has a Hard Time Starting in the Winter

So you’ve just turned the key in the ignition on a cold winter morning and: nothing. The engine sputters but just wont turn over. Or maybe the engine doesn’t even respond. The winter is tough on your car, especially in places like Baltimore where we see subzero temperatures frequently throughout the season. Learn why the winter is so hard on your car, and a few things you can try when your car won’t start on those cold winter mornings.

A Difficult Start

First, gasoline has a harder time evaporating when it’s cold. Gas needs to be vaporized in order to combust, and the cold makes it harder for this to happen. One potential solution to this problem is spraying ether into the engine, because it evaporates more easily than gasoline.

Second, the cold causes the oil in your engine to become thick and gooey. The engine wants oil to be smooth and viscous. Thick oil is harder for the engine to push around, which makes it harder to get started. Synthetic oil is more resistant to this problem.

Third, the cold takes a toll on your battery. The battery uses chemical reactions to generate electricity, and these reactions take place more slowly in cold temperatures. Not only that, but the engine is demanding more current from the battery to move that thick oil around. Combined, these two factors can overwhelm the battery and leave it with not enough juice to get the engine started. Car batteries are also more likely to die in cold weather. In either case, a quick jump should do the trick.

Here are a few more things you can do to make it easier to start your car in the winter:

  • Make sure you drive your car enough to charge the battery fully. If you’re taking short 5-10 minute trips, the engine won’t be able to give the battery a full charge. A longer drive means more charge for the battery.
  • Park in a garage if possible.
  • Use thinner or synthetic oil.
  • Try not to let the gas get too low. Condensation can form on the wall of the tank, sink to the bottom and cause problems in the fuel line.
  • If the car doesn’t start after 10-20 seconds, give it a rest for 2 minutes. You don’t want the starter to overheat. This also lets the battery recover.
  • If the car won’t start after several tries, try removing the battery and bringing it inside to warm up. This could take up to two hours, but may do the trick.


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If you have any questions about our blog Tips for Protecting Your Car from Salt, please contact Auto Stop by calling 410-467-7600 or visit AutoStopLTD.com today! You can also follow Auto Stop on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.

Our mechanics are highly trained and use state-of-the-art Automotive diagnostic equipment to pinpoint your particular issues, repair it, and get you back on the road as quickly as possible. We promise to diagnose your auto repair problems in an honest and professional manner and all of our work is 100% guaranteed!

Auto Stop is your local auto repair shop, serving the Baltimore metro area. We are A+ accredited by the Better Business Bureau. We are also an ARI Fleet repair center for all Fleet Repairs.




This entry was posted on Friday, January 16th, 2015 at 6:57 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.