Archived Story

Starting car engine in winter more difficult

Published 9:06am Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It’s a common problem: A driver goes to his or her car on a cold winter’s morning, puts the key in the ignition, only to discover the car engine won’t turn over.

Cold weather can wreak havoc on a car’s performance.

For an engine to start, a complicated process involving several essential components must go off without a hitch.

When the key is turned in a car, that turn causes a spark to take place in the spark plugs. This then ignites the fuel and oxygen mixture present in the engine.

When the air temperature is cold, the chemical combustion taking place in the engine may be compromised.

That’s because all chemical reactions slow down when it is cold.

Combine this with a cold battery that has also slowed down due to the temperature and, as a result, won’t crank the engine very efficiently, and starting the engine is suddenly very difficult.

One of the remedies to this situation is to keep the engine as warm as possible. It can take 8 to 12 hours for an auto engine to cool down after the vehicle has been driven.

So parking the car in a garage and out of the wind can help keep the heat in longer and prevent cold start problems.

That’s because wind does not cause the heat from the engine to dissipate as quickly.

Another thing to try that can help engines perform better in the cold weather is a lower viscosity motor oil, which will flow more easily.

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