OwnershipHere's what to do if your car won't start in cold weather

22:20  05 february  2019
22:20  05 february  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Here's what to do if your car won't start in cold weather© Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. People try to get a car out of a snowbank Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 29, 2019, on Grand River Ave. in East Lansing, Michigan [Matthew Dae Smith/USA Today Network/Lansing State Journal] If you woke up Wednesday morning and your car wouldn't start, you are not alone.

As record-smashing cold enveloped much of the country, many drivers found themselves with dead batteries.

When it gets this cold outside, many things can go wrong with your car, but a big one is the battery, said Tires Tires Tires service adviser Rod Sammons. If your battery is on the older side, this can be a big problem.

Warming Up Your Car in the Cold Just Harms the Engine

Warming Up Your Car in the Cold Just Harms the Engine The long-held notion that you should let your car idle in the cold is only true for carbureted engines. In the thick of winter, the common wisdom is that when you are gearing up to take your truck out in the cold and snow, you should step outside, start up your engine, and let it idle to warm up. But contrary to popular belief, this does not prolong the life of your engine; in fact, it decreases it by stripping oil away from the engine's cylinders and pistons. In a nutshell, an internal combustion engine works by using pistons to compress a mixture of air and vaporized fuel within a cylinder.

"If you have a weak battery at all, the car just won't start," said AAA South Dakota spokeswoman Marilyn Buskohl. She recommends getting a new battery every three years.

More: How often should I start my car and let it idle in cold weather? Answer: Don't.

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If you didn't think ahead and are waking up to a car that won't start, here are some things you can do:

Jump it. Sammons says getting a jump from a friend or tow truck will often do the trick.

"If the battery's got any life left in it at all, you can jump it," he said.

Your car's manual will include instructions on how to do this. Read them beforehand, because jumping a car incorrectly can cause your battery to explode!

How Severe Cold Affects Your Car (and What to Do about It)

How Severe Cold Affects Your Car (and What to Do about It) We talked with a repairman from Alaska to find out how the cold can affect cars and hear about any possible solutions. Problem: Deflated tires As the air in your tires gets colder, it contracts and has less pressure. Tires correspondingly become underinflated. Solution: Check your tire pressure more often than you normally would. The Car Care Council recommends doing so once a week. You might think a little deflation provides better traction, but tire experts caution against running tires below manufacturers’ recommended pressure, as that can cause uneven or unsafe tread wear.

Also, let your car run for at least 20 minutes after it's been jump-started to let the battery recharge or you could face the whole problem again when you try to restart it.

And a note about next time: It's always a good idea to have jumper cables in the back of your car.

Bring it to an auto shop. Bringing your car into an auto shop is best for determining what exactly the problem is, Sammon said, but it can also have a positive side effect.

"Sometimes all it takes is getting it into the shop and letting it warm up for a few hours and off it goes," he said.

Hold the key in the ignition for 10 seconds. In cold weather, engine oil thickens and doesn't flow as well. Moisture in the fuel lines can also freeze and cause a blockage, causing the engine to not start, Buskohl said.

“Not everybody lives in California”: Tesla Model 3 owners are griping about frozen door handles

“Not everybody lives in California”: Tesla Model 3 owners are griping about frozen door handles The electric car isn’t without flaws, especially when a polar vortex comes along. This winter, Model 3 owners have taken to social media to gripe about the vehicle’s retractable door handles getting stuck in icy conditions. Normally, the handles open automatically when you approach the car, or when you push on them. But when they’re partially covered in ice, they can become stuck. So maybe the Model 3 isn't the best winter car. pic.twitter.com/e7laP1aADu — Andrea Falcone (@asfalcone) January 30, 2019 So many oversights by @Tesla in the design of the Model 3 in regards to cold weather.

"To start a car in freezing cold winter weather, start by shutting off any accessories, like the heater, radio and lights," she said. Then, put the keys in the ignition, turn and hold the key for up to 10 seconds. If this doesn't work, wait a minute or so before repeating the process.

More: How to keep your furnace running and your pipes from freezing during the dangerous cold

More: Here's how to drive safety in cold weather as the polar vortex blankets US

Take a Lyft to work and plan better for next time. Most people to wait until it's too late to start thinking about whether their battery is in good shape, Sammon said. While it may not help now, it may help you avoid a similar situation the next time the temperature dips.

Avoiding problems in the future: Parking in a garage, whether heated or not, will keep your car warmer than parking it outside. Even a carport keeps a car several degrees warmer than one parked outside with no protection.

Electric engine warming blankets can be easily fitted atop your engine or on the inside of your car hood to keep your engine warm overnight, according to Lifewire.com.

Tesla, Jaguar and Nissan EVs lose power in cold temps. Polar vortex left electric car owners in cold

Tesla, Jaguar and Nissan EVs lose power in cold temps. Polar vortex left electric car owners in cold Owners of today's battery-electric vehicles found out during last week's cold snap that the range that shows up on their instrument panel is, at best, an estimate that can be impacted by things like terrain, a motorist's driving style and whether you use the heat and headlights.

Other heaters include block heaters that bolt electrical elements to the exterior of the engine, oil heaters that take the place of a dipstick and coolant heaters to keep the antifreeze from, well, freezing.

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Contributing: The Des Moines Register

Follow Katie Nelson on Twitter: @katienjourno

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Here's what to do if your car won't start in cold weather

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