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

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Car won't start in colder weather

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: The car will crank but won't turn over

If the starter motor is turning the engine over rapidly, at sufficient RPM, but the engine does not catch and run, that means that there is an ignition, fuel, air induction, or mechanical fault in the engine that will have...

Q: Noises from the ac 2004 Saturn Vue

Hi there - if the compressor is making rattling or clanking noises this indicates an upcoming failure of the compressor. Yes, it will eventually seize or otherwise fail, possibly breaking the belt when it does. When the compressor fails, bits...

Q: Where is the spare tire?

The spare tire is a very important safety feature. If one of your tires blows, you don’t have a way of driving your vehicle unless you have a spare tire. The spare tire is located in the trunk, under the...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
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.