My Car Won’t Start In Cold Weather

18 January 2022 Blog

Scraping and de-icing your car is certainly not our idea of fun first thing in a morning. Now imagine climbing into your freezing cold car and the engine won’t start!

Unfortunately, this can be a common issue no matter the age of the car you own. The most likely cause for your car not starting in cold weather is a fault with the battery, but there are other possible causes it is useful for you to be aware of in case you have this problem.

  

Reasons Your Car’s Not Starting In The Cold

Car Battery

The most common offender for car’s not starting when it starts to get cold is your car’s battery. With so much specification and features on modern cars, your battery’s health has become more important than ever.

Your car’s battery will charge as your car is being driven, so if you only tend to do shorter journeys, you do leave yourself exposed once the temperature starts to drop as your battery will never become fully charged.

Colder temperatures affect the normal chemical process of a battery producing and storing electricity. If your battery can’t produce electricity or it is struggling to hold its charge, this will in turn affect the process of the engine being switched on. A flat battery tends to produce a ‘whining’ type noise when you turn the key in the ignition and prevents the starter motor from turning over. A completely flat battery can also prevent any lights from coming up on your dashboard and affect the operation of the remote key fob locking and unlocking your central locking.

What Do I Do If My Car Battery Is Flat?

The easiest and quickest method to get you on your way is jump starting your vehicle. However, for this you need access to two very important items: a set of jump leads and another vehicle (which is not always possible).

If you don’t have access to these, you will need to charge your battery or failing that, use your breakdown cover. Chargers can be purchased from most motoring service retailers.

If your battery continues to struggle to hold charge, it is worth getting it replaced as soon as possible.

Tips For Looking After Your Car’s Battery

In terms of looking after your battery, always ensure all the electrics inside the car are switched off before turning off your engine & always make sure you only use features powered by electricity when you really have to. These include heated seats, sat nav, radio etc.

  

Alternator

Your alternator is a component that charges your car battery when the engine is running. If your battery is new & it looks to be in good health but keeps going flat, this would indicate an issue with the alternator. If you jump start your vehicle but the engine immediately dies, then the battery is not getting any power which again points to an alternator fault.

Alternators are easily sourced but not particularly easy to fit unless you are rather handy in car repairs. So, it may be worth getting an expert to diagnose the issue and replace the part themselves to ensure you are back up and running without any further issues.

  

Starter Motor

The clue is in the name when it comes to the starter motor. This uses electricity from the battery to turn over the engine and get your car started. Many modern cars are now fitted with stop/start to make them more economical, as a result starter motors have had to become more robust to cope with these demands.

How Do I Know It’s A Problem With The Starter Motor?

A starter motor fault is probably the easiest to self-diagnose. When you turn the key in the ignition, this will cause a ticking/clicking type sound and the engine will not start. Jump starting your car will also fail if the issue is being caused by a faulty starter motor. A garage you trust will be the best way to get this issue resolved and the likelihood will be a new starter motor will need to be fitted to get you up and running again.

  

Fuel System

Fuel systems can become contaminated with water over time and with cold weather come freezing temperatures, causing the water to freeze.

Fuel lines that feed the injectors in the engine can be quite narrow so if they get blocked by ice particles, your engine will not be receiving any fuel. This can cause performance issues such as juddering when accelerating, or the engine just not starting at all in cold weather. There are additives available to reduce contamination, however if the problem is severe then you may require a professional to flush out the system completely.

   

Are There Ways You Can Prevent Your Car From Not Starting In The Cold?

Unfortunately, components do stop working and develop unexpected faults, sometimes even when they are new without any real explanation. However there are ways to help reduce the chances of you encountering a problem with your car starting over the colder winter months.

Firstly, if you are fortunate enough to own a garage, we recommend parking your car in there at every opportunity to reduce the time your car is exposed to the cold.

Another recommendation is to carry out regular maintenance checks yourself at home as the temperatures drop. ‘FORCES’ is the easiest way to remember the key checks to carry out.

  • Fuel
  • Oil
  • Rubber
  • Coolant
  • Electrics
  • Screen wash

  

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Give Your Car A Winter Car Check

Driving Safely In The Snow

Maintenance Tips For Keeping Your Car Running Smoothly