Steps to Guarantee Your Classic Car Starts Up in the Winter

If you drive a classic or vintage car during the cold season you obviously know that winter can be hard on your treasured set of wheels. Starting any vehicle on a frigid morning can be an unpleasant challenge, but this is especially true with older cars that don’t have computer chips or electronic fuel injection. Here are some suggestions:

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: A few seconds to a few hours

Here’s How to Keep Your Classic Car Running:

1. Start your winter driving preparations by checking the battery. Most batteries last five years at best. A strong new battery is your best cold-starting insurance. And don’t crimp on price. As with anything else, you get what you pay for.

2. Check the cold winter cranking amps of the battery; not all batteries are created equal.

3. Check all electrical connections thoroughly. The battery, for example, may be perfectly serviceable but if there is corrosion on the cables maximum power isn’t getting through.

4. Check the water level if you have an older-style battery. Modern batteries are sealed; they have a little window where green means the battery is still good; red means it should be replaced.

5. Change the oil to 5W-30, or even 0W-30 in extreme situations. Lower oil viscocity reduces drag on a cold engine, making it easier to start.

6. Don’t crank the engine beyond 20 seconds. Anything more puts a huge demand on the battery. Cranking for extended periods may also damage the starter through overheating, or it could lead to flooding of carbureted engines. Battery cables, in extreme cases, can melt from the heat of extended cranking.

And Don’t Forget These When Doing Car Maintenance:

7. Take a 40-second break between attempts at starting. Your battery needs time to revive. As do you!

8. If your car has a manual transmission put the handbrake on, set the gear in neutral, depress the clutch as you crank. There will be less drag on the engine and battery.

9. Your battery and starter may be serviceable but if the car doesn’t start the fuel line could be frozen, starving the engine of gasoline. Consider adding fuel-line anti-freeze as the weather worsens.

10. Check anti-freeze type and quantity. Too little can cause your coolant to freeze, bursting pipes and hoses. Or, horrors… crack the block! The proper blend of anti-freeze and water, if you choose to mix them, is 50%.


Consider a tune-up before winter sets in. All the electrical and fuel components need to be in good shape if an engine is to start with ease. Be absolutely certain you’re following the correct starting procedures for your classic or vintage car. Different eras of manufacture require different techniques. A block heater can help, though you may not want to tamper with an older car’s system if the intent is to keep it original.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find OEM parts for cars that are no longer in production.  When it comes to OEM Wheels, Blackburn’s Wheel Finder is your best bet to find exactly what you need.


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