How To Start A Car In This Extreme Cold

With all-time record-breaking cold weather setting in on the Quad Cities, here are some tips to help you make sure your car starts in the morning from people who deal with this every Winter. 

The most important thing to do actually occurs when you turn off your car...make sure the heat/fan, radio, seat heaters, etc. area ll turned off.  They will all drain the battery...something you don't need when starting a car on a sub-zero morning. If your engine does start, let it run a while before you switch any of these accessories back on or you run the risk of killing the battery again. 

Car still won't start? Check your car battery for signs of corrosion...that salty/crusty build-up where the cables are connected to the battery. Make sure you’re wearing protective goggles and gloves, disconnect the battery cables (negative first) and clean with a toothbrush and a strong mixture of baking soda and water. When you replace the cables, always connect the negative one last to avoid electric shock. If they're already corrosion-free, you might check to see if they are connected tightly. If the clamps are loose, tighten them up before trying the ignition again.

Did you know that starting a cold car first thing in the morning uses 40% more fuel than usual? In other words, if you’re heading home from work this evening and you notice your gas tank is looking a little low, it’s a good idea to fill up before you park it up for the night, or you might find yourself caught short the next morning. Having a full tank of gas also prevents condensation in the fuel line, which can also keep your car from starting.

One little trick I learned from a friend who worked in Duluth...when you get in your car, turn your headlights on for about 10 seconds or so. This actually warms up the battery a little. Just make sure to shut them off BEFORE you go to start the car.

Here are some other Winter driving tips, according to ACDelco...

1. Refill your fluids

Check your windshield washer fluid and think about replacing it with something formulated expressly for cold weather. Winter blends use a greater ratio of alcohol-to-water and are less likely to freeze. Refill anti-freeze (be careful not to mix colors) or flush it if it hasn’t been changed in a few years. Check your oil and consider changing to a cool-temp formulation with lower viscosity for better winter performance.

2. Get winter wiper blades

Swapping out your standard windshield wipers for winter blades can do wonders for your visibility in harsh driving conditions. These blades have been tested to withstand and perform at extremely low temps and are designed to be more flexible, protecting better against the buildup of snow and ice.

3. Take care of your battery

A bout of cold weather can be the death knell for a worn battery, so assess your battery’s health before the cold weather begins (hot summer days also take a toll on car batteries). Change your battery every 3 years (follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your vehicle) and check for signs of corrosion.

4. Invest in winter tires

All-season tires are fine most of the time, but if you’re dealing with extremely cold temperatures and slick pavement, it might be worth investing in a good pair of winter tires. With specialized tread patterns and rubber compounds, winter tires will give you the enhanced traction you need on icy roads.

5. Check your tire pressure

In cool air, tire pressure can drop. You’ll want your tires properly inflated all winter long in order to maintain optimal traction, so it’s important to do periodic checks to ensure they’re at the right levels. Each car is different, though, so check your car manual for the recommended amount.

6. Grease your locks

Car locks can freeze in the extreme cold. Using a grease agent or lubricant spray can help keep all your car’s moving parts in working order. Inject lubricant spray into lock cylinders to keep things moving all winter long. And if you have a little extra time, try lubricating your door hinges too.

Mark Manuel

Mark Manuel

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