How to make sure your car starts in freezing temperatures and other expert tips

With cold temperatures, it’s common to consider letting your car heat up before driving. However, according to experts at AAA, this might not be necessary. The engine only requires the time it takes to fasten your seat belt for lubricating oil to circulate across vital parts.

Driving the car normally and avoiding hard acceleration is more effective in bringing the engine to a warmer temperature quickly. This not only reduces wear and tear on the engine but also minimizes exhaust emissions. Cliff Ruud, managing director of Automotive for AAA, emphasizes that a slightly extended idle time is acceptable in winter, especially when clearing snow and ice from the windshield and other car parts

Remember, driving your car normally can be more beneficial for both the engine and the environment during cold weather.

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Why won’t my car start when it’s cold?

The following methods can help your vehicle’s battery start under frosty conditions, according to J.D. Power:

  1. Warm up the battery: Flash the high beams for 20 to 30 seconds to provide additional power to the battery
  2. Turn on the ignition: Wait a few seconds for the fuel pump to work, especially if your car has an injector
  3. Pull the lever: If your carburetor doesn’t have an automatic choke, pulling the lever can assist in starting the car
  4. Manual transmission: If your car has a manual transmission, depress the clutch pedal before starting the engine
  5. Short starting intervals: Try starting the car for 10 to 15 seconds to avoid overheating. If unsuccessful, wait a minute before attempting again
  6. Repeated attempts: If the starter functions but the car fails to start after three attempts, try depressing the gas pedal and repeat the process
  7. Starter failure: If the starter fails to turn on, it indicates a dead battery or a broken starter
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How often should I start my car to keep the battery charged According to AAA, your car should be started and driven for 30 minutes or more at least once a week. This routine is essential to maintain the battery’s life, keep seals properly lubricated, and prevent the accumulation of old start combustion contaminants in the engine oil.

Starting the car without driving it doesn’t effectively recharge the battery from the engine. If you anticipate not being able to drive your car for a while, AAA recommends enlisting the help of friends or family to drive your car for 30 minutes a week to ensure proper battery maintenance.

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