When the mercury drops, and ice and snow hit the streets, it’s tempting to let your car warm up before hitting the road. Believe it or not, that might not be the best move. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping your car running in the cold.

How to Warm Up Your Car

Experts at AAA have some advice that might surprise you. Forget about idling your car to warm it up. Just get in, buckle up, adjust your mirrors, and start driving. That’s actually the quickest way to warm up your engine and the inside of your car. Apparently, idling your car to warm it up is just burning gas.

How to Deal with Ice and Snow

Got ice and snow covering your car like a winter blanket? Don’t just kick off the big chunks and hit the road. Take the time to properly scrape off every window and mirror. Visibility is key in the cold. Use a good ice scraper and a snow brush to clear off the roof, hood, and trunk too. Snow flying off your car can be a hazard for other drivers. Once you’ve got the ice and snow cleared, hop in and turn on those defrosters. Get the heat going and give your car a few minutes to defog those windows.

Why Won’t My Car Start in the Cold?

Struggling with a car that won’t start on a chilly morning is a hassle nobody wants. If you’re turning the key and getting more clicks than vrooms, it’s likely your battery playing the cold shoulder.

Batteries don’t perform their best when they’re not fully charged, and the cold weather just makes it worse. Cold temperatures slow down the chemical reactions inside the battery, reducing its ability to hold and deliver power. This means even a slightly weak battery can leave you stranded.

But your battery isn’t the only culprit in cold-weather car troubles. Winter has a way of turning small issues into big problems. Engine oil thickens in the cold, making it harder for your engine to turn over.

Those old spark plugs you’ve been meaning to replace? They might give up the ghost when temperatures plunge. Fuel lines can freeze, especially if there’s any water vapor in the system. And let’s not forget about your starter motor, which can suffer in the cold too.

Tips to Get Your Battery Going in the Frost

Here are some tricks to wake up your battery:

  • Flash those high beams for 20-30 seconds.
  • Turn the ignition and give the fuel pump a moment if you’ve got an injector.
  • Got a carburetor without an automatic choke? Pull that lever.
  • If it’s a manual, press the clutch before you start.
  • Try starting for 10-15 seconds max. If it doesn’t start, wait a minute and try again.
  • If it’s still a no-go, press the gas pedal and try again.
  • No luck? The battery might be dead, or the starter’s busted.

Winter can be tough on cars. They might need double the juice to get going. At 32 degrees, a battery’s strength drops by 35%. Regularly check your antifreeze and battery to avoid engine freeze-up and rust. Keep an eye on your tire pressure too. Make sure your lights and wiper blades are in good shape for clear visibility on the road. Don’t forget to check your oil, transmission fluid, and coolant levels when the engine’s cold.

How Often to Start Your Car to Keep Your Battery Charged

AAA suggests starting and driving your car for at least 30 minutes once a week. This keeps the battery alive, the seals lubricated, and prevents gunk from building up in the engine oil. Just starting the car without driving won’t recharge the battery. If you’re not around, ask someone to take your car for a short drive.

Keeping your car in top shape during the cold months isn’t rocket science. Stay on top of your battery and antifreeze, scrap off ice and snow, and remember, there’s no need to idle. Drive safe and keep warm!

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Author: Abbie Clark

Title: Co-Founder

Expertise: Automotive Industry, Electric Vehicles, DIY Car Repairs


Abbie Clark is a writer, blog, and founder of RideRambler, Hey She Thrives, and The Bearded Bunch.

From clever car cleaning tricks to the freshest car features and reviews, Abbie loves sharing her knowledge on everything automotive. Outside of her time writing for her websites, you’ll find her fishing with her husband, deciphering her toddler’s babbling, or baking up something sweet.

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