Causes of a longer crank time when the engine is cold

During cold days, cars generally take longer to start. There are various reasons why this phenomenon occurs. One of the major causes of longer crank time on a cold engine can be attributed to the thickened engine oil. Cold temperatures make engine oil thicker and more viscous, thus harder to pump, a factor that hinders the oil’s circulation.

Poor engine oil circulation, therefore, increases engine crank time

Causes for a long crank time when the engine is cold?

Thicked engine oil

The thickening of the oil due to cold temperatures can be a result of the type of engine oil used. Some engine oil brands are better resistant to colder temperatures than others.

Therefore, they tend not to thicken, making them suitable for colder climates. Additionally, engine oil that has remained unchanged for long periods tends to become dirty, thus prone to thickening when the engine gets cold.

Faulty battery

Having an old car battery or faulty battery can contribute to longer crank time during cold days. When the weather is cold, batteries can lose their ability to produce electrons needed to power the starter motor.

Bad battery cables

When less power than required by the starter is produced, it gets harder to start your car. In addition to old batteries, poor battery terminal connection can increase the crank time.

This can be caused by corrosion around the battery terminals, interrupting the power flow to the starter. Corrosion can arise from water condensation due to the cold engine.

Reduced fuel evaporation rate

Likewise, longer crank time can result from the reduced fuel evaporation rate due to colder temperatures. For the engine to function, fuel is heated and vaporized.

Then, it undergoes combustion in the combustion chamber to produce energy. The engine requires more fuel during car startup to achieve the optimum air-fuel ratio.

However, cool temperatures hinder fuel evaporation, resulting in a long time to vaporize the appropriate amount of fuel needed to start the vehicle.

Contaminated fuel

In addition to reduced fuel evaporation, the fuel can be contaminated, which would increase the crank time. The most common fuel contaminant is water.

This can occur due to condensation in the fuel tank leading to the formation of moisture. The moisture will then mix in with the fuel, thus contaminating it.

Compared to fuel, water has a lower freezing point; therefore, during colder climates, the water in the fuel can freeze up, leading to combustion problems and long crank time.

Moreover, the contamination can lead to a total engine failure when not addressed in time. 

How can the long crank time due to cold be fixed?

Various solutions are available depending on the cause of the long crank time. Foremost, the problem of thickening engine oil can be resolved by changing the type of oil used.

By using better brands of oil that are resistant to cold temperatures, the oil’s viscosity will remain constant at all times, regardless of engine temperature.

Another cause of thick engine oil is dirt accumulation. Regularly changing the engine oil will fix this issue.

One can replace the battery after the manufacturer’s recommended period to fix the long crank time caused by an old battery. Likewise, doing regular engine checkups will enable you to discover any onset of corrosion around the battery terminals.

By applying corrosion-resistant products around the battery terminals, such as epoxy powder and wax, corrosion can be avoided. 

Additionally, we can prevent fuel contamination by reducing the risk of condensation. This is possible by regularly topping up the fuel tank to the recommended level to decrease available space for condensation.

Alternatively, we can add certain additives to the fuel, which will suspend the water. The now-suspended water can then be flushed out through the vehicle’s exhaust.

However, if you suspect water contamination, have your system professionally flushed to avert any problems. Regarding the reduced evaporation rate of fuel caused by the cold temperature, simply parking your car in an indoor garage will help maintain the warm temperature of the engine, hence eliminating long crank time. 

Final thoughts

When the engine is cold, the crank time tends to be longer. This is caused by many reasons, such as an old or faulty battery, oil thickening, reduced fuel vaporization, and fuel contamination.

However, it is easy to fix these problems, with the simplest solution being parking your car in a well-insulated indoor garage. Likewise, conducting regular car maintenance can help prevent most of these problems from occurring.

These maintenance procedures include regular oil changes and replacing old batteries. In conclusion, understanding why your car takes longer to crank during cold weather is the first step toward resolving the problem.

Scroll to Top