Cold starting

Just bought my daughter a 2010 Nissan Xterra. I am having trouble with it starting in the cold. The car lot put a new alternator and battery in it before I picked it up. It is only in extreme cold. I took to autozone to have battery checked and it was good. He advised cleaning terminals and I did. Still no fix. It will crank like crazy just won’t turn over. Then battery gets low and have to stop trying. Once it warms up it will start. Any ideas?

Did you actually remove the terminals and clean the posts and the inside of the terminals. Or did you just run a wire brush over the terminals.

CRank and Turn over are the same. I think you mean that it cranks/turns over, but it will not fire and start.
If it is cranking it is not the battery that is the problem. Either you are not getting spark or fuel.
Are you sure it is not just out of gas.

I’d start with removing the air intake and give it a healthy shot of starting fluid and immediately try to start it. If it fires and starts for a second or two, then it is a fuel issue. If it still just cranks the same, then I’d say it’s not getting spark.


Yes, removed terminals and cleaned thoroughly. Sorry for my terminology but yes it will crank just not fire and start. I will try the starter fluid in the air intake and see what happens. If that works, what are my options then?

“If that works, what are my options then?”

Have you bought fuel since you bought it? Might just be stale gas or summer gas.
Change the fuel filter. Test fuel pressure.

battery gets low so you have to stop? does that mean you try and crank motor till the motor will not crank anymore? a dead/depleted battery will not recover by itself. dead is dead. if you cannot start car when it is -20F and drain battery and than wait 24 hrs and its still -20f and you try and start, the battery will still be dead. why did dealer replace battery and starter? sitting on lot for 3 months? new battery is nice. no dealer is going to put in a $300 starter on a 2010 vehicle for kicks. i think you may have a high mileage issue or poor maintenance or fuel delivery issue or ignition issue. maybe dealer got vehicle to start and sold it and hopes you dont come back

I don’t know where you live, but one way to ease starting in temps down near 0 is to switch to synthetic oil. Use whatever viscosity your car calls for. When you go down below freezing, the synthetic oil will not thicken up as much, so it will be easier to start. And yeah, you might get that battery charged up or even buy a charger. Plus all the suggestions above.

Cranks ok, but won’t start. Ok, Could be any of an assortment of things. Besides making sure all the routine maintenance is up to date, suggest you focus on the cold aspect to simply the diagnosis. i.e. That it only happens in cold weather.

For a gas engine to start reliably in cold weather the engine computer has to make a pretty big adjustment to the fuel/air mixture when the engine coolant is cold. It really richens the mixture up. If when you do this you don’t notice a gasoline odor, that could be an indication the mixture isn’t rich enough. The way it does this is to measure the coolant temperature using the engine coolant temp sensor, then adjust the amount of time duration for each pulse of the fuel injectors. Sometimes it will even double pulse the fuel injectors to get extra gas in there.

If the problem is in this process, there is something wrong with the engine coolant temp sensor, the fuel pressure, the injectors, or the computer.

It’s also possible the cold is affecting the ignition system. Crank position sensors are known to be temperature sensitive so that’s something check. A mechanic could do a spark test if they had it in the shop at the time it wouldn’t start.

A common problem is the fuel system looses pressure. see if leaving the key in the on position for a minute, and you hear the fuel pump working before trying to start the car.