Cold Weather Question



Ok, I know that cold is not great for car batteries; I have heard stories about people turning on their cars mid way through the night to warm up the battery and prevent it from not starting in the morning due to low temperture.

My 2007 Mazda3 has a moment of… hesitation starting up on cold mornings. My scant knowledge of cars tells me that this problem is either related to the battery not liking the cold to the ubiquitous “something else.” This battery is the same one in the car when I bought it new. Despite it’s hesitation some mornings, the car has never failed to start.

The reason for my question is as follows: this morning in Detroit it was around 5 degrees Farenheit when I woke up at 5a.m. Start the car to let it warm up, though, made me more nervous than ever before that it wasn’t going to start. I know so little about cars that it’s difficult to determine whether how it was acting was to be expected or not. The car, like, puttered for a good few seconds before starting up (when typically at worst it would putter for about a second before successfully starting up). This may or may not have been the coldest morning yet this season that I have headed out to start my car. Is the battery the likely culprit still? Do I need to worry about it actually not starting? Cold as single digits are, I thought cars could withstand that better. Do I have a problem already with my 3 year old car?

Do I just need to replace my battery? If so, is there some sort of affortable yet acceptable option for a young, poor college student?


The job of the battery is to power the electric starting motor. A very cold motor is “stiff” due to the oil being thick and more friction as cold metal moves against cold metal. This makes it harder for the starting motor to do its job. Therefore the starting motor will turn over the motor a bit slower and it will sound a bit different than it would tuning over a warm motor.

What you are describing sounds pretty normal for the coldest weather we will experience. When the motor does fire one or two cylinders will lag a bit but as long as all cylinders fire up and the motor smooths out in about 15 seconds then all is well. You can buy a new battery and get a higher capacity battery which may be stronger and do a better job on cold starts.

For the same, or less money, as a new battery you can buy a “jump start” pack and keep it charged up. That way if your battery fails, or you leave the lights on and run down your battery you can jump start it quickly yourself and be on your way.


Sound absolutely normal. Don’t worry.

Have your battery load tested(free at autoparts stores and places like Walmart) before jumping to replacing it.


You are both awesome. Thanks.