Tips for reliable auto starts in cold temps

Auto repair shops are busy with drivers whose cars won’t start. As we still have months of cold weather ahead, we have a few tips to help you make sure that your vehicle starts.

A good, heavy-duty battery is essential in cold weather. You’ll also want to switch your engine oil to a thinner grade for the winter months.

“Cold weather takes a good deal of the efficiency out of the battery,” Bob Frak of Marquette Automotive said. “It makes it hard to turn over. Synthetic oil will take some of the strain off of the starter and leave more voltage and energy in the battery for cranking the engine over.”

He suggests checking for snow and/or ice buildup between your vehicle’s alloy wheels. A block heater may also be a good purchase.

“It’s better for the engine for the car to start warm than cold because (of) initial friction and lubrication in the engine,” Frak said. “On a warm engine, it’s better to start warm.”

When getting out of your car, make sure that everything is turned off — headlights, interior lights, stereo, heater, cell phones — and if you use a car charger for your phone or another device, take the charger out of the cigarette lighter. The charger will drain your vehicle’s battery even if no devices are charging.