Cold weather can play havoc with your car, which can be frustrating to say the least. One common problem is that your car might not start when it’s cold outside, and this can be caused by a number of issues.

If you’re wondering, ‘why won’t my car start in the cold?’, we’ve got you covered. Here, we’ll look at why your car struggles to start in the morning during the winter. From batteries to fuel systems and more, we’re here to help you figure out why your car won’t start in the cold.


If your car won’t start in the cold, the first thing you should check is the battery, as this is the most common cause. Usually, it’s a case of needing to jump start or charge the battery to get it going again.

If, when you turn the key in the ignition, you’re met with a flat whine that doesn’t start the engine, it’s most likely that you’ve got a flat battery. If your battery is completely flat, there will be other pointers, too. Most notably, the ignition lights on your car’s dashboard won’t light up, and your car probably won’t lock when you try to use your remote key.

You can try to jump start your engine if you’re in a hurry, but you’ll need jump cables and another car in order to do this. Otherwise, you might need to call a recovery service to come and fix or replace your battery.


If your battery is relatively new but keeps going flat, the issue might be with your alternator. This is the generator that charges your battery when the engine’s running.

The main tells for a faulty generator are that your headlights and dashboard lights might flicker, the engine dies immediately after jump starting, and sometimes even a burning smell, (indicating that the alternator has overheated).

Unless you’re an experienced expert yourself, replacing your alternator is a job best left to the professionals, rather than finding an at-home fix. It shouldn’t take long to repair, but it’s a complicated job due to the alternator being connected to both the car’s battery and engine.

starter motor

The starter motor is the part that jolts your car’s engine to life when you turn the key. A lot of modern cars are now fitted with stop-start systems, which feature stronger starter motors. However, a lot of cars don’t have this luxury, and that isn’t to say that the cold weather won’t cause havoc to it.

The main signifier of a broken starter motor is a clicking sound triggered by turning the key, followed by an engine that won’t start. As previously noted, your lights will usually play up if the issue is battery-related, so if your lights and dashboard are all working fine, the problem is more likely to sit with your starter motor.

Jump starting your car won’t work if a broken starter motor is the problem. Again, it’s best to contact a professional to fix it for you as soon as possible to get you back on the road. This issue takes slightly longer to fix than replacing the alternator, so you’ll need to be okay without it for a day or so.

fuel system

It’s not uncommon for a car fuel system to take in some water over time. Unfortunately, this can cause combustion problems, and can become a real issue in the winter if the water is made to freeze. If your car won’t start when cold but starts when warm, the fuel system could be the problem, as it’s the freezing of the water that stops your car starting altogether.

Ice particles can block the fuel lines, which can then stop fuel from getting to the engine.

If a water-logged fuel system is the problem, you’ll find that your car won’t start, you have a stuttering engine, and there will be a generally jerky feeling to the way your car handles.

You can prevent this happening to an extent by keeping your fuel tank as full as possible, as this will minimise the risk of condensation. If it’s too late for that, the best fix is to get the fuel system professionally flushed.

drive safe with

Know your car and how to drive it with more advice from our blog to make sure you can recognise issues and drive safely in all conditions, like heavy rain.

The best place to start is by driving in a vehicle you trust, so start browsing through today. We have used cars available all over the country from trusted dealerships, so you could find the right car for you, with us.

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