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Cold Mornings & Reluctant Engines

Protect Your Car on Cold Winter Mornings

Two things ensure your car is ready to go when you are. Learn the correct way to start a reluctant engine and how to protect against winter freeze-ups.

Carbureted systems:

  • Press down on the accelerator pedal once to draw gas
    into the carburetor.

  • Turn off the car ignition and wait at least one minute.

  • Hold the gas pedal to the floor and crank the engine for no more than 10 seconds.

  • Repeat this procedure no more than three times.

  • Do not pump the accelerator. If the car will still not respond, there may be battery or mechanical trouble.

Fuel-injected systems:

  • Fuel injected cars do not require pressing the accelerator. The electronic fuel pump does that automatically.

  • For fuel-injected vehicles, consult the owner's manual for recommended procedures.

Regardless of your car's system, the smell of gas means the engine is flooded.

Starting steps for all cars:

  • Turn off all accessories, including heater, defroster, lights, wipers and radio.

  • Don't 'gun' or 'rev' an engine. Take it easy until the car warms up. Hard acceleration can damage a cold engine.

  • Never warm a car in a garage, closed or otherwise. Carbon monoxide exhaust fumes could be fatal to occupants in the car, garage or attached structures.

Other cold-weather suggestions:

  • Add gasoline antifreeze to the fuel tank. The fluid will protect against fuel-line freeze in cold weather.

  • Keep the gas tank at least half-filled.

  • Keep an equal mixture of antifreeze and water in the car's cooling system.

  • Park in a garage, if possible. If not, park with the front of the car out of the wind.

(Source :