Can extreme cold cause timing problems?

At -17 deg F, many engines would have a tough time starting up, especially 25 year old ones. If your car hasn’t been exposed to that low of temperature this winter, better have the coolant checked to make sure it is providing protection to those temperatures. Sometimes water will be added to the cooling system as an expedient fix to a leak during the summer then forgotten it was done. Check the coolant in the radiator, not just in the overflow bottle.

After checking that, If I had that problem I’d try to figure out a way to place the car in a warmer environment overnight, see if that solves the crank but won’t start problem. That would at least provide you some clues what the cause might be. If that’s not possible, I’d try spraying some starter fluid into the air intake path, preferably directly into the throttle body. If it still didn’t start I’d speculate on a spark (ignition system) problem. Best of luck OP.

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At -17F the hydraulic lifters may be frozen and some at full extension and failing to allow the valves to seat and an intake valve that fails to seat will result in a backfire through the intake manifold while reducing compression resulting in the engine turning somewhat more freely. I wonder what weight oil is in the crankcase. And think what a bottle of Oil Stabilizer would do to the lifters. If the car has a Mazda OHC engine I have seen them fail to start due to pumped up lifters at 0*F with 20W50 oil.

Throw my vote in with hauling the car into a warm garage over night then trying it.

Well guys thought i would come back and say…i hate cars lol. So today it hit the 40’s I have not tried to turn over the car since that one day. I go out check the oil antifreeze etc, then i put the key in the ignition and it turns right over! WTH really , is my car possessed by a gremlin? Im seriously freaked that it would not start before now its out there running and humming like all is right in the world. Why the heck would it do that? How can a car that will not start all of a sudden start, the gas froze?But we have ethanol and thats like anti freeze isnt it?

Either way the Silver Bullet lives another day!

My '86 Tempo did that. Replaced the starter, no more problems.

Well remember that batteries are rated at Cold Cranking Amps for a reason and what weight oil is in the car? My old Blazer that was slow starting several days ago when the temperature was 6* fired up perfectly yesterday at 36*… Let’s hope for an early spring.

I think you mean that the engine cranked and started. It was always cranking ok right? It just wouldn’t catch and start. Cranks but won’t start is usually either a spark or fuel system problem. But sometimes it is a combo of things, like the cranking isn’t robust enough, the engine compression isn’t quite what it should be, and maybe the spark plugs aren’t in as good of condition as they could be. I had a lawn mower that was getting harder and harder to start, especially when it was cold. Sometimes I couldn’t get it to start at all below 45 degrees. This was a very old lawn mower, and I’d tried all the usual stuff, replace the spark plug etc. So one day I decide to replace the piston rings, see if that would help. It turns out replacing the piston rings on a small one cylinder two-cycle lawnmower engine isn’t that big a chore. What a difference. With new piston rings I only had to barely pull the rope starter, it started right up with nary a complaint , no matter the temperature.

That question has not been answered, and can’t be until it fails to start again.

Yes it was always cranking. I thought i said that at the start of the post. Turn the key on and it was cranking the engine fine just not starting. But it was prob because of how cold it was, cause yesterday barely turned the key to run and it started right up.

When it gets warmer, or if the problem returns, suggest to renew the spark plugs, and check the engine compression numbers.