Why isn’t my car starting?
Imagine this: You’re late for work because you were binge watching every episode of walking dead the night before. You look at your applewatch and it’s 8:55, so you just have 5 minutes left to be at work.
Granted in Nova Scotia everything is at fair distance but even still you need about a good 10-15 minutes. You put on whatever clothes you can grab off the ground, grab your bag and run for the car. You plug in the key, put on the seatbelt and all you see are lights flashing in the instrument panel and…darkness. You try again, this time the lights flash a little less. Ok, one more time for good measure for luck – 3 tries and you’re out!
So why is this happening to you? your mechanic never said anything about your car not starting out randomly. Oh, but the weather is cold, and your car doesn’t want to wake up. Can you blame it? you barely want to wake up to go to work or school, when it’s so cold outside.
Believe it or not, a lot of the times, we are the ones to blame for this occurrence. When you get home from work or school, it’s tempting to quickly shut down the car and go home where it’s warm. But please do take a second to make sure the dome lights inside the car and headlights outside the car have all been turned off. Also remember, often times, if you don’t completely close your door, the inner lights stay on. Sometimes those lights are designed to stay on, until you get a chance to find everything you need before you leave, and sometimes we hope that’s why the lights are on. Long story short, leaving any of the lights on, leaving the door open, or leaving accessories plugged in i.e. such as your dashcam. can drain your battery over night and then your car may not turn on in the morning.
Another thing to know is that once your car is on, your alternator continually nourishes and recharges your battery that you will need to start the car, run accessories, turn on lights, etc. If you’re in the habit of listening to music with the car in the on position, but with the car not running, then you may have an issue starting the car after – especially if you’re battery is kind of old or weak. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to check the power of your battery once a year, just before the weather gets cold. If you don’t know how to do that, simply visit your mechanic and ask them to check your battery with their device. If you’re a handy man or woman, it’s not very hard to check the power of your battery, and there are a ton of videos on YouTube to guide you using a simple multimeter.
Remember that cold weather has a severe impact on a car’s battery. It’s very often during winter that people will have difficulty starting their vehicles. Well, why is that? Cold weather slows down the chemical reaction happening inside your car battery. During the cold seasons, your engine requires nearly twice as much power to start from your battery, but get this: your battery’s strength is lessened sometimes by up to 60% or more, the colder that it gets.
In our 25 hour in class programs, we talk quite a bit about maintaining the vehicle. What I like to remind my students of is the popular quote by Benjamin Franklin: ” An ounce of prevention is greater than a pound of cure.” In other words, ensuring your battery is in working order takes a very small effort to do, and yet if we don’t do that, having to call CAA or tow our cars to the shop or having to find someone to give us a boost to start our cars takes much more effort, time and money.
One of the items that I recommend everyone to have in their car is a battery booster or a booster pack. They are like a power bank for your cellphone and they have the capability to start a battery that is too weak to start the car on its own. Some of them can be quite inexpensive, and having one ensures that you’re able to start your car quickly, in case you find yourself in a mechanical start up jam. You can also use it as a flashlight, or to charge your cellphones or other devices, while on a road trip.