I have a 2001 Chevy Cavalier that I bought new in Oct 2000. Besides having an A/C leak 4 years ago the car has run great - I have had very few, if any, problems. Just this past week (1st week of January) it has gotten very cold (for Missouri anyway) top temp about 15 degrees, lows below zero. Anyway…my car starts cold without a hitch, just as quick as on any other day (my husbands car is very slow and sluggish to turn over). It drove fine until we had our first real snow (about 4 inches) I had to drive slower to work that day because the roads were not cleared yet. I was going up a small hill at about 20 mph and my engine just stopped/stalled…I noticed the “oil” light on, and then the battery light came on…but I just had my oil changed abt 4 months ago and the battery is only a little over 3 years old. The strange thing was that my dash/overhead lights dimmed, but my car heater was still going full blast (not affected at all). I threw the car in park and put the parking brake on, turned the keys back, waited for a second, then turned the keys again - and it started right up and I drove the rest of the way to work. I thought it just might be a fluke thing - but it’s happened now at least once in the last four days while I’ve been driving. The only thing I’ve been able to pick out (and I have no idea if these are connected in any way at all) is that each time the car stalls, I have been moving slowly (0-20 mph) up a slight incline on snow covered road. And I’m guessing that it can’t be the battery or any of the battery cable connections because each time it happens - my engine is dead but the heater continues to run unaffected by the loss of power. Plus, I can throw the car in neutral then park…turn off and then turn the key again and within seconds the car starts right back up as if nothing had happened. Any ideas? Thank you in advance for any suggestions…will eventually take it to a mechanic (maybe) but I’m thinking this is just a fluke thing due to the extremely cold weather we’ve been having.
I’d suggest putting the battery on a charger for a few hours, or overnight, depending on the size of the charger. Your battery may not be as charged up as you think.
With all the accessories going, ie the heater blower on full blast and likely the RW defroster on, you may not be getting much of a charge to the battery. Have the belt that drives the alternator checked. If it is loose the alternator can’t spin enough to deal with all the draw of current.
Hopefully this too will pass when the weather warms a bit. If the alternator belt is tight, and the alternator is putting out the proper charge then you need to “manage” the use of all the accessories. For instance as soon as the back window is clear enough turn off the RW defroster, reduce the fan speed a notch or two, etc. This will help the alternator keep the battery charged. Charging the battery and running all the accessories may just to be pushing your alternator to the limit of its capacity.
Agree with Uncle Turbo; without looking out of the window or seeing the weather forecast on TV, we can tell the season and the extremes from reading all the cold weather posts.
Last year we could also tell the world price of oil and gas prices due to all the mileage questions.
Drivers in Minnesota, North dakota and other cold states are prepared for all this and we get few questions from them.
Preparing a car for cold weather requires checking all the things that affect poor starting and running, and requires spending some money to make sure everything is up to scratch. We suspect a lot of mechanics in the South may not be able to do that either.