Why Starting Your Vehicle in Winter is Harder

December 18th, 2014 by

Throughout the winter we have these deep cold snaps that make your car have to work extra hard to get started. Your engine will make a slow cranking sound rather than snapping into life. Have you ever wondered what’s causing that? Well, it’s actually a variety of things happening at once.

Your Battery Isn’t Producing As Much Electricity

The battery in your car is essentially a container of chemicals. These chemicals work together to produce electrons which create the energy for your vehicle. Since your battery depends on chemical reactions to produce energy, you are going to see decreases in output during cold periods. Cold weather slows down these chemical reactions, and leaves your vehicle less energy to start with.

You can combat this problem with a battery better designed to handle cold weather, but we definitely suggest asking a service provider, such as the ones at Ressler Motors, which battery is right for you. You may actually have a great battery right now.

Your Oil Gets Thicker

While you may not notice much of a difference between a warm soda and a cold soda, you would definitely see a difference from a liquid with more viscosity. A good example would be maple syrup. Syrup from the pantry will flow pretty smoothly. Syrup from the fridge will come out very slowly. As a fluid with high viscosity, the oil in your car can be similar. In cold weather your engine oil will be much thicker. Since your engine has to push through this thick oil it will have a little harder time getting started.

One way to combat that is with synthetic oil. You can read about the difference between synthetic and conventional oil here. Before switching to synthetic oil, in case you don’t already have it in your car, we recommend talking to your service professional. Synthetic oil may not be right for all vehicles, especially old ones with leaking problems.

More Energy is Required to Ignite Gas

Your engine works by injecting fuel into your combustion chamber, and it being ignited by your spark plugs. In warm weather this injection is essentially evaporated gas that makes a really fine mist. In cold weather this mist isn’t as thin, and will not combust as efficiently as it would in warm weather. This changes rapidly once the engine is started. That’s why many new vehicles only recommend a few minutes of warm up time.

This is the complete opposite of some older vehicles. Growing up I had an old truck that absolutely would not start in cold weather. So, each cold morning I needed to spray some ether into the air intake. You wouldn’t need to do this with any of the new models, but it is interesting to think about the advancements that have happened in the last few decades.