Car won't start in the cold... could it when it warms up?

It is pretty cold outside now, a few degrees below zero. My wife's car is parked outside and it won't start. It just chugs. Any chance it just needs to thaw out a bit when it warms up (into the 20s?) or it a solid indicator of needing a new battery or something more expensive?

I'm no expert, but it does sound like a low battery. You might try getting a jump before exploring any other options.

Lacking handy or proficient friends or neighbors, if you're in the US and have AAA, they'll come out and do it for free.

0f or 0c?

If it is 0c, then it probably is something wrong with the car. If it is 0f, then yes, it could be the temperature. If it works fine when it warms up consider getting a battery blanket or a block heater so you don't have the problem again.

It could just be cold, but I'd suspect it's the battery instead.
Then again, I'm no expert on cars in the slightest.

Battery is your first bet if the battery is old.

Marginal batteries are likely to fail when the weather is cold. How old is the battery?

The battery is four years old. Thanks for all the replies everyone!

I had this problem, it turned out to be my alternator.

It could be a bunch of things. First thing, given the temp to me is the battery. I'd haul it out of the car, and drop by Advance Auto or some parts store to have it tested. If it's no more good, then replace it and work from there. If it's trying to turn over, but not firing it could be a bunch of things. Spark plugs, fuel filter, the list goes on.

Given the temp and the age of the battery, my money is on a bad battery.

What kind of car is it? Is it a newer car? Does the engine turn over at all? Or is there just some clicking? Do the turn signals still work with the key in the on position? Do they seem slow?

Yeah, I've definitely had a car that won't start on a cold night, grudgingly start when it's warmer.

Yeah, cold temperatures slow down the chemical reaction in the battery. If the battery is marginal the problem will be worse because it will be under voltage at normal operation anyway.

The battery may just be short of electrolyte, which boils off over time, or it may be worn out. If the battery is fine then your alternator may not be charging sufficiently.

If all is fine, then a battery blanket will be a good investment, it will help starting and prolong the life of your battery.

4 years is enough for the battery to go weak. And will be ALWAYS cold weather when the issue comes up.
"Waiting to thaw" means really means waiting another day for the battery to warm up. I'd get a neighbor to try and jump you up, and drive to a service shop to get the battery diagnosed and replaced if necessary, which is most likely. If you or your neighbor don't have a jump cable, or your neighbor is not a nice person... Call AAA as others suggested.

BTW, it always helps to have a jumper cable. You can buy a one for $10 at any car parts store, or get a whole emergency kit with a cable included for $30-$40 online. Michelin has been throwing a free kit with a full set tire change lately, and there are a lots of resellers on Ebay hawking them cheap.

This just happened to me. I grabbed a new battery from Fleet Farm, threw it in and haven't had any issues. It is probably a combination of old battery and the amount of CCAs (Cold Crank Amps) that the battery puts out.When you get a new battery make sure you spend the extra $15 and get somethign with a CCA of 800 or better. You will thank yourself in the long run.

My car has trouble starting when it's below 10F. It tends to turn over better if I gas it a little while turning the key.

The battery may just be short of electrolyte,

Which, I'm also told, plants crave.

Reaper81 wrote:
The battery may just be short of electrolyte,

Which, I'm also told, plants crave.

Yeah, but what are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are essential-minerald salts that are necessary for metabolism of marketing plants for auto parts industry.

They are what athletes need in order to secure highly-paid contracts from sports drink manufacturers.

They're what plants crave.


For shipping a second hand car from UK to India how much import duty do i have to pay?

Number Plates

Depends on the amount of spam you've got stashed in the car.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

"Waiting to thaw" means really means waiting another day for the battery to warm up.

In the past I've unhooked the battery and brought it indoors for a while to get the battery up to a decent temp, especially if it's going to be cold for a while.

Good luck.

Robear wrote:

Depends on the amount of spam you've got stashed in the car.

I love when spammers resurrect old threads. All the old jokes become new again. Like getting reruns of Seinfeld.

By the way, the car did start up later but it needed a new battery.


I the spammer dredged this up. I read it. I was up early.

My wife's car won't start. No block heater. -30C morning.

It's creepy when the internet predicts the future.