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Car not starting in cold weather? Here’s what to do and why

Date: Mon 4th December 2017   |   Author: Modeten

If you notice that your car is struggling to start in the cold or it won’t start at all, it’s probably caused by an issue with your battery. Temperature affects how electricity flows through circuitry, so in the damp and frosty weather your car’s battery and electrical system has to work harder to get the engine started.

We take a look at what to do if your car’s not starting in the cold and how to prevent it in the future.

What shall I do if my car’s not starting in cold?

If your car’s not starting in the cold weather and it was working fine the last time that you drove it, it’s probably a battery issue. In which case you’ll need to jump start your car to get it back on the road. To do this you’ll need jump leads and another car with a functional battery.

Guide to jump starting car

SAFETY FIRST: Check for damage to the batteries and jump leads and remove all jewellery, including watches, before attempting to jump start your car. If the car leads get hot, carefully remove them using a cover for your hands.

  1. Turn all electrical items, including radio, lights and sat nav off in the car that won’t start. This will use unnecessary power.
  2. Park the “donor” car next to the car with the flat battery so the jump leads will reach between both batteries.
  3. Turn the engines off, take the keys out and lift the bonnet.
  4. Attach the red ends to the red terminals located on the top of the car. Red is positive, indicated with a + symbol.
  5. Attach the black cable to the NEGATIVE (-) terminal on the CAR WITH BATTERY.
  6. Attach the other end of the black jump lead to unpainted metal on the car with the flat battery, but not on the battery. This then acts as the earth cable.
  7. Start the engine on the car with the good battery and wait for a few minutes.
  8. Now try starting your car. Hopefully, the problem should be solved.


If your vehicle starts, you’ll have to take it for a long drive to charge the battery. You should also buy a battery charger to bring it back to full charge before your next drive. If it doesn’t start the problem might be more serious than first though and you might have to ring the recovery van after all.

What does the battery light mean?

If your car is struggling to start and the battery light is illuminated this could mean a number of things. The most common issue resulting in the battery light turning on is a faulty alternator and if this fails, you could be left stranded. If your battery light is illuminated then take your car to the garage for checks and repairs straight away.

How to prevent battery issues in the cold

Modern cars have a lot of technology that constantly requires battery power to keep it functional. With the cold weather setting in you should look to take extra measures to ensure your car starts first time.

  1. Only use heaters when necessary and turn them off following a journey.
  2. Start your car before you turn any lights, radio or heaters on.
  3. Disconnect phone chargers or cables and ensure all doors and your boot is properly closed so that no lights are left on.

Additional winter battery maintenance

If your battery is over three years old, it’s also recommended to carry out additional maintenance and regularly check your battery’s health.

  1. If you only use your car for short journeys you should use a battery charger once a month to make starting your car in the cold easier.
  2. You should also look to purchase a car battery level indicator in order to monitor how much charge is in your battery in an easy to measure way.
  3. If your battery is old and you find that it’s power is reducing very quick it might be time to purchase a new one before it goes flat. You never know where you might get caught out on a cold night!