Starting a car on a cold day after it had been parked for a while can be challenging. Not preparing for cold, freezing or wet weather can lead to difficult starting, malfunction or damage. Here are four ways to keep your car from having problems during the colder months.
Check your battery
When the temperatures are cold, it takes more power to start the engine. During the winter, already weak or poorly-maintained batteries are more likely to fail. Be sure to buy batteries that have enough cold-cranking amps for your car and climate. Some batteries are labeled "N" or "north" and are designed to do better in cold weather.
Take care of your antifreeze
Antifreeze is designed to freeze at lower temperatures than water and keep your cooling system and engine from rusting. However, it can wear out and become less effective over time. Have your cooling system flushed and refilled about every two years. Your antifreeze's strength can be tested at a shop or at home with a coolant testing kit. If your cooling system needs to be topped off, replace the fluid with at least 50% coolant to keep from diluting the system.
Use multi-grade oil
Oil becomes thicker in cold weather and could make the engine harder to start. Single weight oil, such as 30W and 40W are OK in warmer climates or seasons. Multi-grade oils, such as 5W-30 or 10W-40, are designed so that the viscosity is thin enough when the engine is cold so as not to impede the engine. Once the engine is warmed up, it protects the engine like a single weight 30W or 40W.
Use an engine-block heater
In extremely cold climates, engine-block heaters may be a great choice for protecting an engine. These heaters work by keeping the coolant warm which then keeps the oil and other components warm, making starting the car easier. They come in two different types, one that works on electricity and only directly heats the coolant and one that runs on the vehicle's fuel and circulates the coolant. Keeping the block warm allows for easier and gentler starting.
If at all possible, use a garage or carport to protect your car from the elements. Not only will it keep your car warmer, but it will also protect the body and paint. If this is not an option, then using some or all of the above methods can increase the chance that your car will start and run reliably through the coldest winter months.
Talk to an auto parts store like Hawaii Import Parts for more information.