What to Do If Your Car Won’t Start: Our cars are becoming sluggish as we head deeper into winter as we cope with the cold dark mornings once again.
When your car won’t start, what do you do? Then you are forced to call a rescue service, order a taxi, and make grovelling phone calls to apologize and rearrange all your important meetings.
Low temperatures can cause your car battery to produce less current, making it that much harder for your engine to start in the morning. You may also experience engine oil leaks in the cold, which strains your battery.
You’ll find six practical tips on how to get your car going, as well as how to prevent future non-starters in this guide.
How to start your car on a cold day
To prevent starting issues in cold weather, it’s helpful to understand why cars struggle. Cold weather can be hazardous for your car as well. Check out our winter driving tips guide. Winter starting problems have four main causes:
- During a cold day, car batteries produce less electrical current because chemical reactions are slower. Warm batteries produce more power, and cold batteries produce less.
- Cold engine oil is thicker and doesn’t flow as well. As a result, the battery is put under additional strain. A low-power battery can result in a non-start.
- Moisture in fuel lines can freeze and cause a fuel blockage, which means the engine won’t start. The fuel lines are thin and easily blocked by ice. For diesel drivers, diesel ‘gels’ in the cold, so starting the engine takes longer.
- Those who drive older cars with carburettors are more likely to experience starting issues. Small nozzles on carburetors, which can become clogged and prevent moisture from evaporating, cause a buildup of ice in cold conditions. In modern cars, there are no carburettors, so if yours was built in the last 20 years, you’re fine.
How to Start the Engine: A Guide to Starting
- Switch things off: Before trying to start the car, turn off all your standard electrical accessories such as headlights, heaters, and radios to give the battery a better chance to start. Start your engine a few times before switching back on these accessories or you risk damaging the battery.
- When starting, dip the clutch: It can also work to dip the clutch slightly when turning the ignition. By doing this, even a cold car’s engine has a fighting chance of starting up, as it requires less work from the battery.
- Make sure your battery leads are clean and tight: Check the cables of your car battery under the bonnet. You need to clean the battery if you see corrosion – a salty, crusty substance. Clean the battery cables using a toothbrush and baking soda and water using protective goggles and gloves. To avoid electric shock, always connect the negative cable last. You should still check how tight your cables are, even if they are corrosion-free. Loose cables can hinder the flow of current. Make sure the clamps are tight before trying the ignition.
- Oil your engine: Are you having trouble starting your engine? There might be a low oil level. A low oil level puts more strain on your battery to start the engine, and a cold or damaged battery will never get off the mark. Check the oil level with a dipstick and top it up if it looks low.
- Bradex to the rescue: You’ll need Bradex Easy Start if your car struggles in the cold to kick into life in the morning. Using Bradex, your engine will burn more quickly because the fuel/air mixture is more combustible. As simple as spraying into the engine’s air intake and turning on the ignition. This is a quick way to start your car and may prevent you from missing an important meeting.
- Jump start: Last resort, when all else fails. Jump leads may be in your car, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you could harm yourself or damage your car. You might be able to get a jumpstart from a good Samaritan with a running car if you’re an experienced jump starter. Place your car in neutral, and the other car in neutral, with the engines off. Attach the positive battery terminals of your cars to the positive terminals of the other vehicles. Use the black jump cable to connect the negative terminal of your vehicle’s battery to the negative terminal of the other car’s battery. Start the other car’s engine a few minutes before starting your own.
Avoiding future non-starters
- Charge your battery
- Don’t forget to fill your tank
- The right oil