You crack open your driver’s side door and hop onto the icy surface of your car seat, all clattery teeth as you shiver through another frigid winter morning. Eager to get some warmth, you shove the key into the ignition and turn. Your car’s engine sputters, then dies before it’s even had a chance to live. Or maybe it doesn’t even try to start at all. Sound familiar? We’ve all had this experience in the past – but before you call a tow-truck to drag you to the nearest mechanic, first try these tips.
If Your Car has Trouble Starting When Cold, This May Be Why:
You Need to Pump the Gas Pedal
Unless your car has fuel-injection, pump the gas pedal once before you try to turn the key in the ignition. Just don’t over-pump! You could inadvertently flood your engine, in which case it’ll take you that much longer to get your car started.
Your Lights or Radio Are On
Cold weather can cause your battery’s power to dwindle just far enough where it needs every ounce of its strength to turn over your engine. Turning off all unnecessary features (radio, car heater, and interior and exterior lights) that drain your battery could help give it that extra boost.
You’re Not Holding Turning the Key Enough
Turn the key, and this time, hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds. If your car’s in need of a little bit of help to fight off the cold, this could do it. But don’t hold it any longer than that! You could end up damaging something. If this doesn’t work the first time, give your car a few minutes to rest and then try it again.
If any of these steps work, the next thing you’ll want to do is to give your car the opportunity to warm up before you put it through the paces. This helps get the best performance out of your car and will prevent it from stalling again just moments after you’ve driven off and come to your first stop.
Are the problems persisting? It might be time to have your battery recharged or replaced, or you may have further problems. The best way to determine this is to take your car to a qualified auto mechanic, who can run tests to determine what the best course of action should be.