A Conversation for How to Start Your Car When it is Really Cold

You think -10oC is cold? Take your battery out???

Post 1


In Eastern Canada -10oC is warmer than the highest temperatres normal for Jan/Feb. -25-35oC is very common, as is a week or two below -20oC all the time! I leave my battery always outside in its rightful place in my trusty Nissan Sentra. It always starts. The starter motor is a bit slow if it has dropped to -30oC and I start the car at 6am - but a second crank will always get it going. If I had to carry the battery in and out every night, this would add more delay to getting out in the morning - considering there is often a pile of snow to move to get to the thing and to be able to drive it out on to the street.

Most cars, except the really old beaters will start - providing the battery is in good shape. One of my neigbours battles with his old Toyota as it has a fundamental design flaw in the carburetor, and needs to be fiddled with to get going - his battery is fine.

If you have an old car, or want to warm your car up for the morning, then you can buy an engine block heater. This is an electric heater installed on the engine block that you plug into your AC electric supply (via a long extension cord) and let it wam the engine up overnight. Cars with such things have a plug sticking out the front grille. When I first moved to Canada I wondered if all these cars ran on rechargeable batteries - How progressive!

Further North in Canada, temperatures are often -40oC and below constantly in the middle of Winter. In such places you simply do not turn the engine off. People leave their cars running all the time, even when filling up. If you turn the engine off, it might not start again until you warm the car up somewhere.

and you need a shovel

Post 2


On top of the cold, this snow shovelling is more time consuming.

Last month we had about 60cm of snow in Ottawa. Most of that in one night. It took me and the neighbours about 2.5 hrs to dig out the cars and clear the way out to the street the following morning. Driving is not so much of a problem however as these things are usually cleared up in a day by the city workers, and this was a large although not uncommon snowfall. Still everyone has to do what they have to do - just a very good excuse to show up at work by 11am.

Car started fine, it was only about -10.

and you need a shovel

Post 3


While competing in winter endurance rallies in the Yukon and Alaska
Our team replaced ALL of the fluids in our vehicles with synthetics
Even the brake fluid and trans oil as well as the diffs and transfer case, also used liberal amounts of gas antifreeze, and while in Prudhoe Bay in February we just left them run

and you need a shovel

Post 4


I'm thinking of doing the same next time I go for an oil change - I heard from many people the synthetics are better for your car anyway - Like the Mobil stuff.

warm it

Post 5


Us Brits really have no idea about extreme weather, we are very luck to live on a nice island with temperatures tempered by th gulf stream.
Anyway I heard about one method that apparently works, of you turn on your lights for a few minutes before turning the engine over it has a positive effect, maybe it warms the battery a little before you ask it to deliver that burst of power or maybe it's magic IDK but I'm I understand from the best authority (Click and Clack the Tappit brothers from Car talk) that it does indeed work

warm it

Post 6


turning the lights on loads the battery, and starts the chemical reactions moving.

warm it

Post 7


Funny you mention that - I haven't had time to check these forums for some time...

About a month ago it was below -30oC every night here in Ottawa for most of a week. For the first time in its 6 yr. life (and battery's life) my trusty Sentra did not start at -33oC - I had to get a jump start. I also heard the bit about turning the lights on first - Turning off the fan from full probably helps too! Probably should get a new battery this year - Six years is not too bad for the standard equipment battery - so no complaints.

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