Cold weather kills my car!

Every winter I dread getting in my car in the morning. Once the cold weather months hit, my car just does not act the same anymore. For some reason, the car will start but then instantly stall out unless I hit the gas and warm up the car right after being started. Even if I start driving and come to a stop light or stop sign, if it has not warmed up past the “C” line, it will stall. I was wondering what causes this, and/or what needs changed or fixed to prevent this?

If you told us your year, mileage and maintenance history someone might have a clue.

First thing, when was the last time the spark plugs were changed? It is harder to keep the car running when it is cold.

The Idle Air Control circuit (IAC) may also be gunked up and need a good cleaning. When cold, the ECM opens the IAC more to allow for a higher idle that helps keep the engine running. Gunk build-up blocks the effect.

Another likely problem is ECM doesn’t know how cold it is. The computer has sensors to know what is going on in it and around it. Two sensors help it know how cold it is are the Intake Air Temp sensor (IAT) and the Coolant Temp Sensor (CTS). If either one of these sensors is not reporting the temperature as cold as it actually is, the ECM will not provide enough idle and fuel mixture to keep the engine running. Checking this is easy with a mechanic’s scan tool that will report what the ECM is seeing from the various sensors. This scan tool is not the cheap code reader that you can find at Walmart. You’ll need to ask your mechanic about this if the other two above don’t help.

First thing, when was the last time the spark plugs were changed? and plug wires.

While you are at it, you might let us know when the last time you changed the air and fuel filters.

A self check is checking your coolant level. Without enough it throws your coolant temperature sensor off and causes odd issues.