My '94 Cavalier, with around 87,000 miles on it, has never started well in the cold. It was not a problem until I had to start driving to work and parking in cold places in the winter. (The car came from Florida, where my late aunt drove it only 5,000 miles in its first five years.)
If it is below 30 degrees outside and the car has been parked all day out in the weather, and it has been consistently below freezing all day, half the electrical system doesn’t work until the engine warms up. The heater fan, the radio, and the windshield wipers and squirters don’t work. After the engine warms up, I turn it off, then start it back up and everything works. If I don’t wait for it to warm up enough, things come back in phases - first, the windshield wipers will work even though the radio and heater fan do not work yet. If I let it warm up more, I get those back, as well.
I have to stop and restart the car to get the warming-up to take hold in the electrical system. Sometimes I will restart it and only get back some of the functionality, sometimes I will restart it and it will be sufficiently warm for everything to work.
If it is absolutely frigid outside, this can take about ten minutes. Of course, I can drive the car under these conditions - if it isn’t snowing, because there are no wipers until it’s warmed up. It’s a toss-up which is worse, sitting in the freezing cold to warm up the car, or driving home in the frigid cold which takes just a bit longer. The lights all work, the gauges work, and I presume the alternator is working and recharging the battery, as they do not dim.
My mechanic, a brilliant man and great mechanic, has not yet discovered what causes this. In fact, his garage lot seems to be shielded from weather sufficiently that the car does not reproduce the effect for him.
I have not yet had a winter experience since a groundhog chewed my wiring harness and the mechanic meticulously repaired the wires. Maybe this will have fixed the problem.
It’s just interesting - I really don’t expect to find an answer to it. I live in the Northeast U.S., where temperatures get down below zero only a few times a year.