Join the Car Talk Community!

Cars and Cold Snaps: FAQs

RSS
In honor of  the polar vortex, we’ve compiled some of Tom and Ray’s wisdom on the subject of getting your car started and keeping it going on frigid mornings.

Q. Do you really need to warm up your car on cold winter mornings?
A. (Short Version) Not if your car is newer than 20 years old. Okay, maybe for a minute or two. Okay, there’s a little bit more to it. Read Tom and Ray’s answer.

Q. How long do you have to run a car to recharge the battery after a jump?
A. Twenty to thirty miles should do the trick. But Tom and Ray have an even better solution. More here.

Q. Is it better to start your car every day in cold weather, or is it okay to just let it sit?
A. If you’re not actually driving anywhere, just leave it! In fact, there’s a good reason why that might be better. Check it out

Q. Does it matter what temperature the thermostat is set to while the car is warming up?
A. Tom and Ray refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it will bruise the fragile male ego of the letter-writer’s husband. (But they still have an answer!)

Q. When do you absolutely need to use a block heater?
A. When you live in Alaska

Q. Bonus cold day fun: What happens when you fling a pot of boiling water off your balcony in Siberia?



Need more winter driving info? Check out Tom and Ray's complete set of winter driving tips.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login / Signup
Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic


Go



Submit