Posts Tagged ‘cold’


Why Does My Engine Die When It’s Cold?


I’ve got a 93 Voyager, and every time I start the engine when it’s below freezing outside, it runs for a minute, and then dies.  Any idea what’s going on?

-Russ A., FL


While there are several potential causes for this problem, the most likely one is that you have a bad engine temperature sensor.  If the sensor is bad, the engine tries to add more fuel than necessary which can essentially flood the engine and make it stall.

With this knowledge, head to a mechanic or the dealer and tell them you’d like a new sensor installed.  This fix should be fairly cheap, so it’s definitely worth trying before moving on to other more serious problems.

- Ken the Car Guy


Should I Use Synthetic Oil?


I was talking with a friend the other day and he tried to convince me that I should use synthetic oil in my car.  What difference will it make, if any?

-Ferdinand O., VT


Synthetic oil is made from refined petroleum, as opposed to crude oil which is the standard.  Compared to normal oil, synthetic performs much better in extremely cold or hot temperatures, because it retains it’s viscosity.  It is also said to extend the life of an engine by providing more consistent lubrication.

In general, it’s safer to use synthetic, but if you live in a mild climate and have a soft spot for standard oil, you have nothing to worry about.

- Ken the Car Guy


Do I Need To Let My Car Warm Up?


I’ve got a general question for you.  Should you let a car warm up before driving it?  Now, I’m not asking about A/C or the heater, just in general.  I always let it warm up for 5 minutes or so before driving, but wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to do.

-Michael B., IN


This is actually a more complicated answer than I think you were expecting.  In order to answer this question, I need to know if it’s fuel injected or not.  I also need to know what the temperature is outside.

You see, fuel injected cars are smart enough to regulate the fuel mixture to keep everything lubricated, but older cars are unable to do this and should warm up before any heavy driving.

As for temperature, if it’s really cold out (below 0) you should almost always let the car warm up before driving it… but then again if it’s really that cold, you’ll want to warm it up anyway to let it heat up inside!

- Ken the Car Guy


How Much Ventilation Do You Need In A Garage?


I’ve been working on my car in the garage and turn it on occasionally to check things out.  My wife is worried about the exhaust, but I keep the garage door open, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.  What are your thoughts?

- Nigel C., SD


It’s always good to play it safe.  Keeping the garage door open is fine as long as there’s adequate ventilation to clear the garage of Carbon Monoxide.  When it’s too cold to work outside, I often back the car up till the exhaust pipe is actually outside, then lower the garage door manually to keep the cold out.  If it’s raining and you’d rather keep the car inside, set up a box fan to keep the air circulating.

- Ken the Car Guy


Why Is My AC Irregular?


Recently, my AC has started acting up.  When I first start the car, it will blow cold air, but after about 15 minutes, it blows hot air.  Another 15 minutes and it blows cold air again and keeps cycling like that.  What is happening and how do I fix it?

- Horace F., AZ


The symptoms you are describing make me think that your AC unit is actually freezing itself.  As the compressor starts working, it gets colder and colder until any moisture on the unit freezes.  After seizing up, your air runs hot again until the unit thaws, after which the compressor freezes itself again.

The root cause of this problem could be any number of things, so here are a couple things you should try.

1.  If the humidity in the air is high enough, condensation might form in and on the compressor when it starts.  Try running the engine for 15-20 minutes before firing up the AC.  This should equalize the temperature under the hood and minimize condensation.

2.  Your system may be plugged.  Try removing and refilling all of the coolant.  This may free things up.

There is also a remote possibility that your compressor is actually faulty.  Unfortunately, it may need to be replaced if the above methods don’t solve the problem.

- Ken the Car Guy