Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car won't start in colder weather

asked by on

I have a 95 Chevy cavalier and I noticed that when I started would drag a little. Then one day I got in it and it wouldn't start. All the lights work fine..all my gauge lites work fine, it dings when you put the key in but when I turn it over, it does ticking...nothing. I tried to jump it over and it didn't work. I had a friend tell me it was my starter but it wouldn't even turn over when you tapped it with a hammer. Then one day I went out to start it and it started right up..but I noticed it was warmwr outside and it stopped cranking when it was really cold. I drove it and shut it on and off all thruout the day and then the next morning it had gotten colder out and I went to start it and nothing. ..I'm really confused on what it could be. Plz help lol
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi There, As you may already know, car engines and batteries typically do not do as well in colder weather for a few reasons. When the engine sits for an extended period of time in cold weather, the oil inside the motor becomes very thick and is much harder to move when it comes time to start the car. This requires a bit more current from the battery than it normally would in warmer weather. To make things worse, the battery itself does not produce the same amount of energy that it normally would when the weather is warm as the chemical reactions that generate electricity are slower at a lower temperatures.

Your issue may be one of a weak battery that is causing the motor to turn over slowly. It may also potentially be a starter relay that is beginning to fail. The starter relay directs power from the battery to the starter solenoid which then engages the starter when you turn the key. When this is not working properly, you may notice intermittent starting problems including no response when turning the key to start. Generally, when this does fail, it does so very randomly and usually without warning other than intermittent starting much like you describe. I would recommend having an expert from YourMechanic come to your location to diagnose and replace your starter relay.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Will crank but won't start

You need to check to see if you have spark to the plugs. Scan the computer to see if crankshaft and camshaft sensors are signaling the computer to spark. If not then replace the defective spark plug. If it's proven...

Q: CV Axle replaced but immediately inner boot comes apart again on new one.

You need to check your motor and transmission mounts to see if one or more are broken allowing the engine to move and cause the boot to come off. Once the mounts are fixed the boot can be reinstalled with...

Q: Coolant/antifreeze leaking

This may be due to a faulty thermostat, clogged radiator, a faulty coolant fan relay, blown head gasket, or many other potential causes. I would recommend having an expert from YourMechanic come to your home to diagnose and repair your...

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.