Worried about your car in overnight cold? These tips can help ensure it starts in the morning – InForum

FARGO — Matt’s Automotive Service Center on 43 1/2 Street in Fargo had a garage full of cars with a similar issue Tuesday, Dec 28.

“A lot of what we’re dealing with at our mechanical repair facilities are the no-start issues. Vehicle won’t start ’cause it was cold. Vehicle doesn’t run very well ’cause it starts getting cold,” said Matt’s Automotive Service Center General Manager Vern Newman.

Newman said they deal with this sort of issue a lot, and with the drop to well-below-zero temperatures Tuesday night, it could be an issue for many in the morning whose cars will sit out overnight.

But Newman said there are steps people can take to make sure their cars start in the morning.

“The key important thing that you can look for (is) making sure that your fluid levels are where they should be in the vehicle …” he said, “especially the coolant and engine oil levels. When you go to start the vehicles, if those aren’t full, you can start some potential damage to the engine.”

Newman acknowledged having to check fluid levels in the frigid 20-below temperatures can be a pain, but he recommends checking on the battery, as well.

“If you have a bad battery and you need that replaced, getting that replaced as soon as possible is super important,” he said.

A bad battery tied into the freezing weather is a recipe for disaster.

“Before attempting to jump-start the battery, checking it to make sure that the case isn’t froze or swollen is going to be important, as well,” he said. “If you try to jump-start a frozen or swollen battery, it could explode and cause some injuries.”

Block heaters also help. Both can help keep a car’s battery in good condition for the morning. Starting a car at various points in the night also helps.

“Letting the vehicle run at different points throughout the night can only help it. It is obviously a little bit of a nuisance to set an alarm and wake up multiple times throughout the night,” Newman said.

For those with a car starter, it may be possible to schedule start times throughout the night to avoid interrupting sleep, but that plan may not be as strong as it sounds.

“It will help keep the vehicle (running), but with these subzero, frigid temperatures, it’s a very short window before things kind of return to really cold,” he said.

Scheduled Starts.jpg

Scheduled starts if you have an automatic car starter are another thing that could help keep your car from breaking down in the overnight freezing temperatures.

If you wake up in the morning and have to leave and go to work or plan to go to the grocery store, Newman recommends allowing your car to warm up for at least 10-15 minutes prior to departure.

Other things Newman says are good ideas include keeping an emergency support kit in vehicles at all times in case drivers end up stranded and waiting for assistance.

“Do not try to get out and walk any sort of distance. Hospitals are seeing a crazy increase in pneumonia and frostbite. And frostbite with these temperatures is likely gonna result in the losing of limbs, so something that’s super important: just stay in your vehicle,” he said.

Portable jump packs are also good to have on hand, he said.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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