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Are you ready for one more round of polar vortex? Because it’s ready to take on West Michigan again this week. We’ve already been through this twice before, so perhaps you’ve learned how to deal with extreme cold. It’s hard on people, but it’s also hard on cars because the oil in their engines is less viscous in winter, less able to flow between engine parts. A car’s battery also must work harder to turn over that sludge filled engine, but is fundamentally weaker in the cold because the chemical reactions that generate electricity are slower in lower temperatures. So, essentially, in these types of cold, you’re asking your car to do more – a lot more – with less. If you would like to cut it a bit of a break and have it start for you, here are a few tips:
Keep your gas tank full in winter – at least half full. This will prevent water condensation from forming in your gas tank and causing your fuel line to freeze up.
Use 5W-30 oil. It improves cold weather starting and gives overall better fuel economy and performance.
Check your battery periodically, making sure the terminals are clean, tight, and dry. If you regularly inspect your battery’s condition and keep the connectors free of corrosion, this will limit start up problems.
If your battery does fail to start, don’t keep cranking the starter. After 20 seconds, stop and wait for the battery to recover. If your engine has a carburetor, gently press the gas pedal to release some fluid to the engine, but do not keep your foot on it. You do not want your engine to flood. Keep calm, wait, and repeat the process, waiting a minute or two between attempts.
Make sure to turn off anything that may require power from the battery – the radio, the heater blower, or the car’s lights. Your engine needs no competition for the battery’s power.
If you put the key in the ignition and nothing at all happens when you turn it, your battery is probably completely dead and needs to be jump started. If you keep jumper cables in your trunk with your car’s emergency kit, all you’ll need is a friend with a running car and a little bit of know how.
While the frigid temperatures are with us, take a little better care of your car – and yourself – than you usually do, so we can outlast this final phase of winter and get on with spring. If you need automotive assistance during this round of polar vortex give Veenstra’s auto repair in Grand Rapids a call!
By: Mike Veenstra