Now that the temperature has plummeted, I’m having a hard time getting motivated in the morning. Once I finally do get around and warmed up, the old “winter beater” has the same problem that I do- morning motivation. If your vehicle has trouble starting on those cold, dark mornings, it might be because the oil in your deep-freeze of an engine is too thick, or because you have a weak battery.
Thick engine oil
In the cold, most motor oils will get thicker. If it’s really cold outside, or it’s been awhile since your last oil change, it could thicken up more than you realize. Depending on your vehicle, the owner’s manual may suggest a different oil specification for the colder seasons. If this is the case, and you’re due for an oil change, this is the perfect time to change to the lower viscosity winter oil.
Another easy fix is to use an oil pan heater. It should be no problem to walk into an auto parts store or big-box store and pick up a heating element. They come in different varieties, like one that replaces your oil dip-stick, and I used one for years that attached right to the oil pan. It was essentially a big magnet that plugged in, and it did a pretty good job of keeping the oil warm enough that the car started pretty easily.
The best answer to the weak battery problem is to have the battery checked before the winter sets in. I’ve had my battery checked by the guy at the auto parts store before, but I think the best thing would be to have it checked at the same time as the rest of the car during the winterization process at a decent service department. That way, the technician can check the battery posts, clamps, and cables to make sure everything is clean and tight. If this still doesn’t help, it might be time to replace the battery. Old batteries have a problem keeping their charge, and this problem only gets worse when they’re really cold. Add the extra effort needed to churn all that thick oil, and that’s all she wrote. Just like the oil heater, you could also use a battery wrap- something that plugs in and keeps the battery nice and toasty.
Another thing to note is the type of gas you’re using. If you’re using flexfuel (E85) as your sole source of fuel, consider running a little regular gasoline in the tank when it’s really cold out. The alcohol in the fuel changes the characteristics of the fuel and makes it harder to start an engine in the cold. So, while you’re diluting that alcohol in your tank with some regular gas, go ahead and fill it up- a full tank has less space for condensation to accumulate and add water to your gas.
If your car still has trouble starting, or you just want a qualified technician to check everything out, check out the service department at the Woody’s Automotive Group- just one part of your one-stop automotive headquarters.