Louisiana Record Cold – Why Your Car Won’t Crank
This morning as I climbed into Clarence, that's the name of my truck, it's a long story. I said my prayers as I do before I crank my truck every morning and I turned the key. Thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus! Clarence's motor sprung to life and I was on my way to work.
For a lot of people who are hoping to get their day underway today their story will not be quite as sweet. They are going to turn the key or in these modern cars, push a button, and the motor might moan and groan a little but it won't turn over. That happens a lot when the weather gets cold like this. The reason we don't know so much about it in Louisiana is that we seldom see temperatures this low.
The reason your vehicle could start sluggishly or not start at all has to do with how the cold affects the chemicals inside the battery. Those chemicals produce less current in cold weather because their reaction to one another is slowed considerably by the low temperatures.
There are some other things you can check. You will want to locate your battery under the hood and make sure the battery cables are connected snuggly and that there is no build-up of corrosion around the battery poles. If there is you might want to clean that off.
If you are fortunate enough to still drive a car that utilizes a key you can try cycling your ignition. Basically, you're turning the key from off to on, but not all the way to the starting position, about five or ten times. This "cycling" creates bursts of electricity in the battery and sometimes that's enough to "wake up" a battery on a cold day. If your car starts with a button, I don't think you'll have the option.
If that doesn't work and you need to get underway, you'll probably need a jumpstart. That will require a friend with a running vehicle, usually, and a set of jumper cables. Make sure you understand the process before you start connecting the cables because if you make a mistake ambulances could be involved.
Once you get your vehicle running, let it run for a little while. That actually charges the battery and the heat from the engine warms up those chemicals inside. If your batter is fairly new, you should be good to go but if your battery is a few years old. Here's how you find that out. You might need to stop in at almost any auto parts place for a free test.
If you need a new battery, chances are they'll not only sell you one but they'll put it in for you too. Hopefully, none of these tips will apply to you today, but maybe sometime in the future, you'll know what to do the next time it gets cold. Which will be later this week.
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