40 Below Cold Start

The old 4runner started at 40 below
Took about 3 seconds on first twist of the key

No i was not plugged in …

Put that in ur pipe and smoke it

@badbearing A 4runner is good shape is supposed to start at -40 with the oil recommended by the car maker. However, these cold starts cause a great deal of engine wear, something like 500 miles equivalent wear for every cold start.

Those of us who experience this weather regularly take precautions such as plugging in the block heater where possible, using synthetic oil with a weight that starts with 0W—, and making sure the battery is up to scratch.

Some years ago we went to a Christmas dinner and dance. By the time we headed for home, the car was thoroughly “cold soaked”, and started OK. If you work in a place with outside parking and no plug-ins you need to do all these things to make sure you get home.

With good precautions almost any modern car starts in very cold weather. In the age of carburetors, it was often a crap shoot.

-40 actual or -40 windchill ?

dagosa: I had that same question.
But badbearing has said previously he lives in Alaska. I don’t know where, but the temperature this afternoon (12:53 pm AKST) in Fairbanks was -35F (-37C). I got this from noaa.gov. The windchills were about 20F lower.

@badbearing…I went through a couple of winters in Fairbanks, AK and my vehicles started every morning at 40 below. It’s normal if you have a great battery and the proper oil. I won’t even get into the “windchill” discussion here because it’s simply not worth it. BTW…my kids never missed at day in school because of the weather in Northern Maine. They are prepared up there for heavy snow and low temperatures. Here in the southeast…they will close the schools when the first inch of snow is on the ground. It’s a good idea because they are not prepared for snow in this area at all.

Congrats to you, love it. Had my first fail, 12 degrees I think, had started in colder weather but seemed to just be trying to start on 1 cyl, some heet, and jumper cables finally started. Cold and vehicles canbe hell but so glad for your luck, 48 below with a block heater my coldest working attempt

My 04 4Runner with original battery started easily at -10F actual a week ago after sitting for 5 days. I think two of the best things you can do is keep the tank as full as possible and avoid short trips of less then 20 minutes. This 4 Runner has been the easiest starting and running winter car I have ever owned.

During our recent cold snap our 2007 Toyota started easily at -25 with the original battery and spark plugs. Next fall we will likely proactively replace the battery because a poor battery speeds up the demise of the much more expensive alternator. The 0W20 oil helps. If it stayed cold all the time we would use a 0W-- oil in synthetic.

@badbearing, you were not plugged in, but how 'bout your car?

Other than the fact that your engine will “cold soak” faster when the wind is blowing, the windchill has no effect on the car’s engine. If it did, think how much antifreeze protection you’d need to be able to drive over 40MPH on a 0ºF day. By its very definition, the windchill factor only applies to us, our skin, how we feel, and how quickly we might get frostbite.

See answer #2 here http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/windchill/windchillfaq.shtml#2

Here’s the chart.


It is quite a complement to Toyota engineers that this 4runner cranks and starts first time reliably when – I presume this is the case – it has been left out overnight at -40 degrees. I don’t think either of my Corolla or Ford truck could do that. More likely the Ford truck than the Corolla I expect. The Ford truck used to crank and start reliably at -15 degrees when I lived in Colorado. Of course everything (including me) was newer then.

We don’t get quite that cold where I live and haven’t had a serious cold snap in a few years. I will say that my old 94 LHS started with no problem whatsoever and ran fine when we had a week of -15 to -20 degree weather here about 4 years ago. I’m sure the Mobil-1 in the crankcase helped with that. My newer car has only been tested at -5 or so, but again, no problem whatsoever. Pretty much any fuel injected vehicle with a good battery and in a reasonable state of tune should be able to start.

As a side note, man I love heated seats!

Anyone have any experience how this sort of cold affects a hybrid or complete electric? I’m just curious.

We were out of town this weekend so the car sat out when it got down to -9. I guess I wasn’t worried but when I pressed the brake pedal to be able to hit the start button, the pedal hardly moved at all. I thought maybe it was so frozen that it wouldn’t activate the switch to be able to start the car but guess it did. Don’t know what it would be like at -40 and don’t want to find out.

@wentwest: I would expect the cold affects the hybrid’s batteries the same way–much reduced output and capacity until they warm up. Add that you’ll be running the engine a lot more because of that and the need for extra heat, and I’d expect much worse mileage than during the summer months.


I doubt the 4runner would have started with the factory recommended oil & and im aware its hard on the engine


-40 is -40 windchill would have no effect on a cold engine


No. A -40 cold start is not “normal”

Mc McAnick

Neither i nor the car was plugged in & i am aware of “cold Soak”

When I lived in the cold zone, and it got down to like -20 or worse, I’d get up in the night and go out and warm up the car for 15 or 20 minutes. That was before I had a garage. Once I got a garage, no problem at all ever. Run it in late in the afternoon, and it would be rather warm in there where the car was.

I am missing your point because -40F is not always -40 windchill and neither is -40 windchill the same as -40F.
Guess what I’m saying is…-40 can be one of three numbers: F,C or windchill. Which is it ? Fahrenheit, Celsius or windchill ?

A s you can see, just a 5 mph wind at -40F means over -50 winchill and frostbite and skin damage in 10 minutes. So these are very dangerous conditions.

I worked in Messena NY one winter for a few weeks. Most nights there…the natives would drain their oil every night…bring it in the house to stay warm…then pour it back in engine in the morning.

Synthetic oil or a block heater on a timer would have been a better substitute for frostbite while draining a car on a cold night and freezing your tosh off filling it in the morning. Must be a reason why they still live in Messena NY. ;=)

Back then…the ONLY synthetic oil was Amsoil. And not even sure you could easily buy it.

The people I was there with…lived in apartments so they didn’t have the option of a block heater.

Messena NY has seen temps below close to -40. The winter I was there…it got down to -20 a couple of nights.