Why won’t my car start in the cold?

Posted in Auto

A person in a puffy white coat stands in front of the open hood of a car on a snowy road.

Let’s set the scene. It’s the middle of winter and you’re on your way to work. With your car keys in one hand and a hot coffee in the other, you make the trek to your vehicle. But when you go to turn your car on, nothing happens. This isn’t the first time you’ve had this issue. You wonder to yourself, “why won’t my car start in the cold?"

Winter weather can make driving a nuisance—especially if you’re having consistent trouble starting your car. Today, we’re discussing the reasons that can happen as well as other maintenance you can do to keep your vehicle running smoothly all season. Plus, get insight about how roadside assistance can help in your time of need.

3 reasons your car won’t turn on in cold weather

Some of the most common reasons your vehicle won’t turn over:

  1. You park your car outside instead of in a garage or parking garage.
  2. Your car components are too cold to work properly—oil, transmission fluid and other fluids can thicken in frigid temperatures.
  3. Your car battery has a low charge.
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How to get your car running in the cold

Here’s what to do when your car won’t start:

  • Make sure your car is in Park (P) or Neutral (N) when you try to start it. For vehicles with push start, make sure you press your brake pedal all the way down before pressing the start button.
  • Check your fuel gauge and make sure the line is not on Empty (E).
  • Assess your battery. From inside your car, make sure the dashboard battery light isn’t lit. Under the hood, look for corrosion on the battery cables. It looks like fluffy green-white deposits.
  • Try jumping your car and see if that fixes the issue.
  • If you have a multimeter, you can use it to verify your battery is at or above 12.4 volts.

Car maintenance tips for winter and cool temperatures

Before cool weather hits and throughout winter, these tips can help your vehicle stay in good working condition:

  • Turn off items that drain the battery in older vehicles like windshield wipers, headlights, heated seats and the stereo before you turn off the vehicle.
  • If your lights won’t turn on or they are noticeably dim, that’s a good indication that the issue is your car battery. Have your car serviced or replace your battery if you know how to do it yourself.
  • Consider clearing out your garage to make room for parking your car.
  • Schedule routine maintenance appointments to ensure your car is ready for every season.
  • Keep your gas tank half full throughout winter to avoid frozen fuel lines. Go the extra mile and do this all year long to ensure you always have enough gas in the car.

Call for roadside assistance

During winter, you may need roadside assistance for varying reasons. You might need a ride home and a tow to the auto mechanic if your car won’t start at the local shopping mall. Or if your car won’t start at home, you might need someone to come out and jump your vehicle.

No matter what kind of roadside assistance you need, Grange is here to help. You can call for roadside assistance using the phone number on the back of your insurance card or by tapping Roadside Assistance in your Grange Mobile app. If you haven’t already, consider adding Roadside Assistance coverage to your Grange car insurance policy to help cover the costs of unexpected roadside maintenance.

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