Help! It's cold and car won't start!

I have a PT Cruiser and about two weeks about while sitting in a parking lot had ‘hot engine’ light come on. I turned the car off, let it cool down, and all was fine. I made a note to check the coolant levels later but forgot to do so.

Fast forward to today. It’s fairly cold here in Syracuse, NY and when I went out to turn the car on it won’t start. It tries to turn over but doesn’t quite make it. (It does NOT click and it does not NOT do anything). The battery itself is fairly new (sticker on it says 5/10) so it doesn’t seem like it would be dead already. I can’t read the coolant level so it must be very low.

I’m wondering if my engine could be frozen or if the block could be cracked? I don’t have a garage to move it into to warm up so that’s not an option. I can’t get it jumped for another few days but I’ve read that if the engine is frozen or cracked that I should NOT run the car at all. Will adding antifreeze to it now (after it is potentially frozen) ‘unfreeze’ it? If so, how long does it take to work?

Any suggestions on what I should do or something else I should be trying to try and narrow down the problem?

Your coolant condition doesn’t have anything to do with the battery/starter not working.

Focus on the battery and connections. Do you have a voltmeter to see how many volts the battery has? Can you hook up a battery charger to it? Why can’t you jump start it for a few days? Take apart the connections and clean them.

From a distance, it is really hard to know what type of damage you may have caused by operating the engine until it overheated. That “hot” light doesn’t just mean that the engine is hot. It means that it is TOO hot, and all kinds of damage can take place when an engine overheats.

And, then by continuing to drive for two more weeks after the overheating incident, God only knows what could have been taking place in your engine while it continued to run in a “too hot” condition. If you also didn’t bother to check the dipstick for the motor oil during that period of time, then I really fear for the engine.

Some possibilities:
Yes, the engine could be “frozen” from having an insufficient concentration of antifreeze/coolant in the cooling system. This could result in a cracked engine block.

The overheating could have warped the cylinder head. The result could be insufficient compression for the engine to run.

It is also possible that the engine has a breached head gasket. This could be either the cause or the effect of the overheating. Also, a breached head gasket can cause the engine to “burn” the antifreeze and/or to contaminate/dilute the motor oil with antifreeze. If the motor oil has been diluted/contaminated with antifreeze, it is possible to destroy the engine’s bearings, due to lack of proper lubrication.

I really don’t think that you have any alternative other than having the car towed to a competent independent mechanic for examination. Just be prepared for some very bad news, and then if the news is not too dire you will be pleasantly surprised.

Good luck!

The only person I know who has cables won’t be available for a couple of days to help me out. I suppose I could go to the store and buy some, but then I still have to find someone else’s car to hook them up to. I did pop the hood to check the age of the battery and while there checked the connections. Everything is clean.

Anyone know if Advance Auto Parts has a warranty on batteries and if so how long?

AAP has warranties on all their batteries, and if this one is bad, it should be replaced for little or no money. As I recall, there are two or three different battery quality lines, and the warranty is dependent on which one you chose. However, without checking the battery for voltage and the alternator for proper output, you don’t know for sure if the battery is the issue, or not.

Your car won’t start and you can’t figure it out. Time for a mechanic.

You “can’t read the coolant levels.” I’m not familiar with new cars, so what do you mean by “levels”? You should be able to see the coolant when you take to cap off the radiator. Adding sufficient antifreeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions couldn’t hoit. How cold is it that you think that the engine is “frozen”?

It’s 41 degrees in Syracuse today, and it’s going to be in the 40’s for the next couple days.

Have you checked the oil?

Is there gas in the gas tank?

[b]How cold is it that you think that the engine is “frozen”?

It’s 41 degrees in Syracuse today, and it’s going to be in the 40’s for the next couple days.

Have you checked the oil?

Is there gas in the gas tank? [/b]

Trying so hard not to laugh…