Why Won't My Car Start in the Cold? - Veenstra's Garage

Why Won’t My Car Start in the Cold?

February 23,2015

carAs Michigan experiences additional rounds of winter cold, more Grand Rapidians will have the unfortunate experience of trying…and failing to start their cars up in the morning. Now, fortunately, this part of the world doesn’t experience arctic cold all that often, not like the village of Oymyakon in East Siberia. Oymyakon is the coldest inhabited place on the earth, with an average January temperature of -50 degrees Celsius. Brrrrr. Inhabitants of Oymyakon leave their vehicles running all the time in winter because they will not be able to start them again if they are turned off and sit in the cold. West Michiganders do not face that kind of a challenge. Still, it’s unhappy news to put your key in the ignition and have the engine refuse to turn over. So, to help you diagnose what is going on with your car, here are some reasons it may have trouble starting.

The battery – If your car makes a clicking noise but will not start when you turn the key on the ignition, this usually means you have a dead battery, although it could also mean a loose wire from the starter. If this is the case you will either have to get someone to jump start your car (with the jumper cables you keep in your trunk for emergencies, of course) or someone to tow you to a garage.

The battery terminal connections – You can suspect something is wrong with these if you turn your key and hear nothing at all. Your cables may need replacing or you may need to clean off the corrosion from you battery terminals.

Lack of fuel – If your engine will turn over but won’t start, you may not have enough fuel in the tank. When the weather is cold, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and keep your gas tank at least half full. Condensation can form more easily in an empty tank and this water will eventually find its way into your fuel lines, freeze, and cause blockages that are expensive to repair.

Spark plugs – Bad spark plugs can also cause a failure to start after the engine turns over.

Moisture present on the distributor cap can also cause a can not to start in damp weather, but that’s not a problem in extreme cold. Also If your car has fuel injection and will not start, you will need to have a professional look at it. Veenstra’s Garage would be pleased to help you manage your car emergency any time, so next time you put your key in the ignition and nothing happens, do give us a call. We’ll solve it for you.