Why Is It Harder To Start Your Engine in the Winter?
One cold morning I shuffled through the snow and to my truck, hopped in the cab, cranked the key, and listened to the engine mumble quietly and wind to a stop. I thought: Darn, time for a new battery. Starting your car in the winter can be a daunting task, especially when temperatures drop below freezing. Not only do you have to brave the cold and scrape off ice from your windshield, but you also have to deal with the possibility of your car not starting at all. So, why is it harder to start your car in the winter, and what maintenance you can you do to beat the cold? In this article, I’ll answer these questions and more, so you can be more prepared than I was when starting your car–or even your diesel truck–in the winter.
Why does my car struggle to start when it’s cold?
Cold temperatures sap your battery’s power, so it’s difficult to spin the electric starter motor. In addition, your car struggles to start when it’s cold because its motor oil thickens and makes it harder for the engine to turn over.
To better understand this, it’s important to note that the average car engine operates at around 200-220 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature outside drops below freezing, it can take much longer for the oil to reach these operating temperatures, and for the engine to turn over easily (HowStuffWorks Auto). Additionally, the cold weather can cause the battery to lose its charge more quickly, which can make it harder for the car to start if it takes a few tries to fire.
It’s worth noting that not all cars are created equal when it comes to starting in the cold. Cars with larger engines or diesel engines, for example, may be more affected by cold temperatures than smaller cars with gasoline engines. However, regardless of the type of car you have, it’s important to take extra care when starting it in the winter.
How cold is too cold to start your car?
There isn’t a specific temperature that’s considered “too cold” to start your car, as it can vary depending on the make and model of the car, as well as the condition of the battery and other components. However, any temperatures below freezing can make it much harder for a car to start.
It’s also worth noting that if you live in an area that regularly experiences extremely cold temperatures, such as below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s important to take extra care when starting your car. In these conditions, it’s best to have your car serviced and checked for any issues before the winter weather hits.
A fresh battery and the proper winter oil weight can go a long way to getting you going on a cold morning–according to Champion Auto Parts. You can also invest in an engine heater to keep your oil from thickening overnight. Finally, if a brand-new battery doesn’t give you enough power in the cold, you can invest in a battery jump pack or have a second battery installed.
What temperature kills a car battery?
Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can have a negative impact on a car battery. While heat can cause the battery to lose its charge more quickly, cold temperatures can cause the battery to lose its ability to generate power altogether.
The specific temperature at which a battery dies can vary depending on the make and model of the battery, as well as its age and condition. However, temperatures below freezing can cause an older car battery to lose its ability to generate enough power for repeated starting attempts.
It’s wise to have your car serviced, and the battery checked before the winter weather hits. Finally, consider investing in a battery blanket or other type of battery warmer, as these can help to keep the battery warm and prevent it from losing its power.
Starting your car in the winter can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding why your car struggles to start when it’s cold and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your car starts smoothly.
Next, learn why bridges freeze before roads, or see 10 more winter car hacks in the video below: