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Can't start up car in cold weather.

SatsumomoSatsumomo Rated PG!Registered User regular
edited November 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey guys! It's that time of year again, where my car refuses to start up in cold weather (Something around 5ºC-8ºC, which is like 40ºF I think?)

Main symptom is that when I turn the key, either nothing happens (Just a click) or the engine tries to turn but very very slowly. So I'm thinking this is more electrical? Or is some component refusing to move while so cold?

It's not the battery, since it's fairly new (Around 1 year old, and this happened last year too) and as soon it's warmer out, car starts up as if nothing happened. What can I do? I leave for work at 5am, there's no public transport at that time yet, so I was an hour late to work today :( Halp.

B12 Sentra, E16 1.6L carburated engine.

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  • DrAlleconDrAllecon Registered User
    I'm guessing you don't have a garage to keep it warm, so instead you could try putting a tarp over your car or a partial tarp over the hood. I know it's a pain, but if it cuts down on the dead starts it might be worth it.

    Another option that worked for me during my freeze-out periods was investing in a car starter/charger. Even though the battery was new, it would get too cold and lose its charge. Each morning I'd pop the trunk, give it some juice and it would kick over.

    Neither solution is really all that great, but it beats having to deal with a dead car every morning until spring.

  • SoggybiscuitSoggybiscuit My food is teasing me. WVRegistered User regular
    Satsumomo wrote:
    Hey guys! It's that time of year again, where my car refuses to start up in cold weather (Something around 5ºC-8ºC, which is like 40ºF I think?)

    Main symptom is that when I turn the key, either nothing happens (Just a click) or the engine tries to turn but very very slowly. So I'm thinking this is more electrical? Or is some component refusing to move while so cold?

    It's not the battery, since it's fairly new (Around 1 year old, and this happened last year too) and as soon it's warmer out, car starts up as if nothing happened. What can I do? I leave for work at 5am, there's no public transport at that time yet, so I was an hour late to work today :( Halp.

    B12 Sentra, E16 1.6L carburated engine.

    That sounds exactly like a battery problem. Even with a carburetor, the engine should at least turn over when it is cold out, unless you are talking extreme cold (like -40 C below). Do you have (or can you at least borrow) one of those portable jumper battery packs?

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  • SatsumomoSatsumomo Rated PG! Registered User regular
    I can probably get my hand on one of those.

    If it's the battery, should I ask for a warranty replacement? I think it has a 3 year warranty. Car is having a lot electrical issues, I've been saving for a new car so I really don't want to spend much on keeping this old boy running :(

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  • LaOsLaOs Registered User regular
    That's not even cold. And it sounds exactly like a battery problem. Definitely take it back to where you got it, have them check it, and even if they can't find anything, I'd still press for a waranty replacement. Batteries should definitely not crap out in that timeframe (especially in that weather). You're still above zero, for pete's sake! lol

  • SatsumomoSatsumomo Rated PG! Registered User regular
    Exactly my thoughts! It's not cold!

    Add insult to injury, while I was trying to start up my car, 2 cars exactly like mine passed right by me. At 5 am. No other cars pass, except those two. Mocking me.

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  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    I would definitely look at the battery first, though I guess it could be the starter or alternator as well.

    I used to drive a 1992 Nissan Sentra, during college, in the Fall/Winter/Spring of 2002-2003, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (for those of you unfamiliar with our climate, -30 overnight temps are not at all abnormal).

    I parked on the street every night and almost never plugged in the block heater, and it started every day.

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    Raneados wrote: »
    so what SPECIFICALLY is the problem with my hole?
  • MuridenMuriden Registered User regular
    Definitely look at the battery first. Alternatively are you keeping at least half a tank of gas? I've had days where it took several attempts to get my car running when I let myself sit on a quarter tank. Doing a bit of googling show a number of opinions as to why this is or is not but I've always had fewer problems starting with > a half tank.

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  • badpoetbadpoet Registered User regular
    I would replace the battery. Your warranty on it will be likley pro-rated because it's more than 12 months (you get full replacement in most battery warranties, meaning that it will have depreciated (say you have a 60 month battery that cost you $70 -- after 36 months you probably would get around $28 towards a new battery).

    It's possible the battery isn't being charged fully by your alternator or there is a something draining your battery overnight enough so that the cold is affecting it (glove box light shorted out, etc), but the battery would be the most likely culprit.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    Yeah battery seems most likely.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Tarp over the car won't really help any overnight. A tarp isn't going to keep enough heat in to keep it above ambient air temp.

    picking up something like: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schumacher-XP400-Jump-Starter/15140202 wouldn't be the worst thing ever.

  • JadedJaded Registered User
    Ruckus wrote:
    I used to drive a 1992 Nissan Sentra, during college, in the Fall/Winter/Spring of 2002-2003, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (for those of you unfamiliar with our climate, -30 overnight temps are not at all abnormal).

    -30? That's temperate here in Winnipeg... mind you, I don't imagine Wind Chill really bothers a car, does it?

    I can't think of anything clever.
  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    Jaded wrote:
    Ruckus wrote:
    I used to drive a 1992 Nissan Sentra, during college, in the Fall/Winter/Spring of 2002-2003, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (for those of you unfamiliar with our climate, -30 overnight temps are not at all abnormal).

    -30? That's temperate here in Winnipeg... mind you, I don't imagine Wind Chill really bothers a car, does it?

    Including the windchill, some of those nights would feel as cold as -50, but no, that really doesn't affect a car's ability to start. Windchill only really increases the rate at which thermal energy is removed from an object or organism, until it bottoms out at the actual ambient temperature. It will cool down a vehicle faster after it's been running, and while it's running. I used to drive home to my parent's place on the weekends, my clutch and transmission would get noticeably more stiff after half an hour on the highway.

    Raneados wrote: »
    so what SPECIFICALLY is the problem with my hole?
  • RedDawnRedDawn Registered User regular
    I'm going to jump on board with everyone else and say that it sounds like a battery issue to me as well. They sell things called battery warmer/blankets. But you shouldn't have to use one at those temps, that really isn't nearly cold enough to justify having to use something like that.

  • jocelynAjocelynA Registered User
    Do you ever plug it in overnight? I used to live in Montana and had to plug mine in every night to get it to start in the morning.

  • DerrickDerrick Registered User regular
    Did this happen last year with the same battery, or a different battery?

    It does sound like your battery is not giving enough juice for a charge, but if the battery is new, it's possible that your car isn't charging the battery as it should while the car is running. Any decent shop will be able to test your battery. You need to know how much charge it has when you bring it in, as well as if it will receive and hold a charge.

    If it has low charge when you bring it in, but receives and holds a charge well, you're looking at alternator issues (most likely). When's the last time you had a tune-up?

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited December 2011
    Vote for battery and suggest you check that you have a battery that is rated for whatever you car calls for, especially in Cold Cranking Amps (CCA).

    Not all batteries are created equal.

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