Car Bogging Down in Cold Weather

I drive a 2001 Chevy Cavalier with about 117,000 miles on it. The weather has recently turned extremely cold (i.e. 10 degrees F), and now the car has been giving me some problems on cold mornings. The engine starts fine, but when I put it in gear it bogs down badly, almost as if it was in neutral. After the car warms up for a while it runs perfectly fine. This has only been going on for the past week or so. If I let the car sit and warm up for 10 or 15 minutes before putting the car into gear, I have -at worst- only slight bogging.

(I live in Kentucky and it has been unusually warm around here for the past couple of years - I honestly don’t remember this ever happening before, but it’s been a VERY long time since I’ve had to drive the car in 10 degree weather.)

It was much warmer later in the week (around 45F) and the car gave me no problems whatsoever, but today the temperature has dropped again (around 20F) and once again it bogged down badly, albeit temporarily.

I had my transmission serviced (just a fluid exchange) after my troubles began on the recommendation of a friend, but it doesn’t seem to have alleviated the problem.

Because my car is fairly high-mileage and I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, I’m concerned that my transmission is damaged. Is that likely, or could it simply be the case that my car is getting older and is less able to handle the cold? Any comments from folks who are more knowledgeable than myself (that would be almost anyone) would be greatly appreciated.


So the problem began BEFORE you had the transmission fluid exchanged?

Also, can you explain what you mean by “bogging?” You said that when you put it in gear, it “bogs down badly, almost as if it’s in neutral.” That’s strange, because in neutral there’s normally no load on the engine, so there should be no “bogging” in neutral either.

Yeah, the problem began BEFORE I had the fluid exchanged. A friend of mine suggested that having the fluid exchanged might be a remedy, but alas it has not been.

Sorry, I guess I wasn’t clear in my terminology. When I say it’s “bogging”, I mean that the engine will rev but the vehicle will only just barely creep forward. Once it warms up, it drives just as well as it ever has. Maybe “slipping” is the better term?

Yeah, “bogging down” usually means “straining under load.” Your transmission is definitely “slipping.”

That’s as far as my knowledge goes. There are some experts on this site who can take it from here…

“Bogging down” usually means that the engine is having a hard time producing power, but this is a transmission problem.

If Transman doesn’t respond to your question soon, perhaps you should re-post the inquiry, focusing the question around a transmission that doesn’t like the cold weather.

It’s a pity I can’t just edit the name of the post.

In all honesty, I know nuts-all about cars. Am I being foolishly optimistic to think that the transmission can’t be TOO jacked up if the car runs normally in all conditions other than upon start-up during extreme cold?

That’s OK, you can post a new one with the title “Transman: please help!”