Last Updated on June 24, 2019 by themechanic
There are lots of possible reasons why your car is hard to start. Your first instinct might be to assume the worst by thinking something is wrong with your engine. But you shouldn’t panic like this because the cause of the problem is probably something much less severe. This is especially true if you only have trouble starting your car when it is cold outside.
Cold or freezing temperatures can impact your ability to start your car more than you realize. It can interfere with the ignition and combustion process, resulting in the air and fuel mixture failing to ignite. The cold can also wear down some of the vital components of your vehicle which allow it to start in the first place. You need to understand what these components are and how they can impact your car in the cold.
5 Common Causes
In most locations, it is coldest at nighttime and in the early morning. If you find that you’re able to start your vehicle easier during the day rather than at night, then you probably have a starting problem related to the cold. From this point, you just need to figure out which area of the car is affected by the cold and then replace it.
Below are the top 5 causes of a car hard to start when cold.
1) Engine Oil is Thick
Engine oil can be affected by two things. First, if your oil is old, then it likely has more thickness and debris. That is why oil changes are recommended every 3,000 to 5,000 miles on average. However, cold temperatures can also make your oil thicker as well. The engine has a lot more trouble pushing thick oil through its components. This means the engine will perform slowly and inefficiently. To combat this problem, the oil filter must be changed more often. Also, the engine oil must be changed more often too. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble starting your engine in the cold.
2) Not Enough Fuel in Tank
The cold temperature can affect the fuel in your gas tank. Experts recommend that you always maintain at least a half a tank of gas when driving in cold environments. When your tank has very little fuel, the cold temperatures will condense this fuel and ultimately cause the fuel line to freeze. This will have a severe impact on your fuel system’s ability to distribute fuel to the engine. As a result, you will have trouble starting your vehicle when it is cold outside.
3) Weak Battery
Most people know that hot temperatures can shorten the lifespan of a battery. But what they don’t realize is that cold temperatures can do the same thing. Several different chemical reactions take place inside of a battery. If the battery is exposed to cold temperatures, then these chemical reactions slow down. As a result, the battery is unable to energize the starter and get the engine running.
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4) Bad Starter
The starter motor utilizes the power of the battery to get the engine running. The cold temperatures can have a severe impact on the starter motor’s functionality. You’re more likely to suffer breakdowns and hard start issues because of the starter motor in cold temperatures. The best thing you can do is drive your car every day and don’t leave it sitting in the cold for long periods of time. This will ensure the components stay warm and fresh for as long as possible.
5) Bad Ignition Switch
Cold temperatures can cause the ignition switch to deteriorate a lot faster. The ignition switch is what allows the electric components in your vehicle to turn on after the ignition is activated by the key. If your ignition switch is not working or acting faulty because of the cold temperatures, then you’ll have trouble starting your vehicle.