Cold weather to a car, is like a brick wall to a charging animal, it can stop it dead on its tracks. In some parts of the country, the coldest, harshest days are those that fall on a traditional holiday where cars are needed the most. The optimistic drivers still rise, bundle up as warm as they can, and go out to give it a try. The grinding motor gives a brief glint of hope to the driver which quickly fades as a series of weakened clicks replace the grind of the engine. Without the car, we are homebound, and we sometimes refuse to let the car or cold weather decide our fate for us, so what can we do?
Cold weather makes the engine hard to start for two main reasons. Most of us know that oil thickens as the temperature drops, and this increases friction which makes it harder for the starter motor to spin the engine. The cold also slows the chemical reaction in the car's battery, which reduces its power output. As the outside temperature drops below 77 degrees, the starting power of the battery drops drastically. At 5 degrees, a fully charged battery has only half its rated amp-hour capacity.
In order to ensure for a car to start in cold weather, pre-winter maintenance is a must. A tuneup in late Fall or earl Winter is necessary. When the engine is fighting against thick oil and a weakened battery, it needs ignition and fuel systems in the best of shape. Also, switch to a lighter weight oil in the Winter, and change the oil before Winter arrives.
It is also important to keep the battery's terminals clean and fastened securely to prevent resistance. Also helpful is to wash the battery's case with a baking soda-water solution whenever deposits appear.These deposits can cause drainage from your battery by conducting current directly from the positive terminal to the negative one or to the chassis.Inspecting the connection of the negative wire to the car's engine block or frame is always a good idea.
Other measures to take, especially in climates where the temperature drops below 0 degrees, is to apply heat to the engine compartment at night. Some safe suggestions would be to throw a blanket over the engine at night. This could hold enough warmth for you to get you going in the morning. Otherwise, running an extension cord and attaching it to an electric heater of some sort, would also help. There are several types of heaters available such as oil,block, and circulatory heaters.
Another tip to helping you start your car in the cold would be by keeping the battery warm and charged with a trickle charge from a battery charger sold in most auto parts sections of stores. Prices for these can may range from $20 into the hundreds. Another less costly way to keep your battery warm is to disconnect it from your car and keep it in the house with you at night. A battery that was room temperature at night has three times more cranking power than a cold battery on a sub zero morning.
These are steps that can be taken on helping you to start your car on a cold morning, but if you decide you'd rather sleep in, then enjoy your rest.