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There's a fine art to starting a car in bitterly cold winter weather, and preparing it for driving. It will not only make your drive safer and more pleasant, but also protects your vehicle from damage!
For Diesel and Petrol/Gasoline Vehicles
- Winterize your car. A car with winter-weight oil, anti-freeze, and so on will perform better in frigid conditions.
- Maintain your battery. Poor or no starting usually happens because of a dead battery. Be sure your battery is in good working order before winter weather sets in. A warm battery has more power - buy a 'battery blanket' to keep it warm.
- Use "Gas Line Antifreeze", which is known by several terms (like "Dry Gas"). This is a chemical (essentially Methyl Hydrate) that is added to your gas tank to inhibit your gas line freezing. If your gas line freezes, your car will not be able to start until it thaws.
- Add Dry Gas to your petrol or gas fill-up before filling the tank (if possible) to insure it mixes completely in the tank.
- This product will also help conserve gas.
- If you will regularly face cold weather, consider installing charging devices for your car.
- A "block heater" is also very useful to keep the engine warm and ready to start. Use a timer to save electricity - if you start the block heater 2 hours before you need to start the car, it will cost you less to use it.
- Watch for frigid weather. If it's going to be cold, park your car indoors. Take out your battery and keep it warm indoors--if you know how. Turn off lights, windshield wipers, radio, and any other accessories.
- Try to start your car as normal. Just because it is cold doesn't necessarily mean your vehicle will give you any trouble.
- If your car does not start up immediately, try several more times.
- Still no ignition? Give it just a little push on the gas while safely in park. Sometimes injected a little fuel can help start things.
- If there is still no ignition, your battery is probably dead. It's now time for a jump-start, or preferably, call a roadside program for them to help you.
- If your car is now started, you need to defrost your windows. Put your defrost setting on medium (NOT HIGH). Let the car idle for 10 minutes or so to completely defrost your windshield. (Ideally, go back inside a building and warm up while this is happening).
- If you have a heated rear window, turn it on now.
- If necessary, remove any ice or snow from your car completely.
- When your windshield is defrosted, you are ready to go. You will likely want to move your car's heating selection to defrost and heat at this point. Don't turn off the defrost setting until your windshield no longer is cloudy, which may be immediately or may need to be kept on depending on the weather.
- If you have a Diesel engine, it may not warm up by idling, and in fact may get colder by doing so. The engine will warm up properly if you drive off after 2 minutes of running.
- A Diesel engine will start better in the cold if you use "fuel conditioner", which prevents the fuel from "gelling".
- Have a clean cloth or paper towels inside your car to wipe the inside of your windshield if necessary.
- Some people claim that an alternative way to warm up your vehicle is to drive very slowly until your car is completely warmed up. Don't do this if it is unsafe to do so, or your windows are still fogged up.
- Automatic starters allow you to avoid going outside to start the car manually and popular in colder climates.
- Do NOT drive your vehicle until all windows are clear.
- If you put your heater on full-blast, you may crack your windshield. Have patience.
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