How to Start Your Vehicle in Cold Weather & Clean it Off

How to Start Your Vehicle in Cold Weather & Clean it Off

[HOW TO START YOUR VEHICLE IN COLD WEATHER & CLEAN IT OFF] Hi there smart drivers, Rick with Smart Drive Test showing you how to clean off your car. Yes a credit card, a briefcase, or some other stiff object is not going to work for you. Go out and buy yourself a quality snow brush, so that when you need to clean your vehicle off you can get it completely cleaned off. Now the first step to cleaning off your vehicle is go inside the vehicle and start the vehicle. up, put it in neutral, and ensure that the parking brake is engaged. When you put it on full defrost, put the defroster on so it recirculates the air in the cabin of the vehicle. As well, if the air conditioning doesn’t come on when you put it on full defrost, turn the air conditioning on as well because the air conditioning will draw the moisture out of the air inside of the vehicle and help it to defrost the windows faster. As well, once you do start driving the vehicle, roll one of the windows down a crack, whether it’s one of the back windows are one of the front windows… I know it’s going to be a little bit chilly at the beginning, but if you start driving the vehicle, it’s going to warm up faster than if you leave it there sitting idling. I know, I know, most of you have gone out and spent a couple hundred bucks on remote car starters and you let them sit there in the driveway and idle away. But you don’t have to actually. They’ve shown, studies rather have shown that they will actually heat up faster–the engine will heat up faster–and give you more heat out of the engine if you actually drive it moderately for the first two or three miles. And as well, you’re going to get better fuel economy in the wintertime. So get yourself a quality brush, a quality scraper because there is going to be ice on your vehicle if you have to leave it outside. If you buy one of those cheap wooden ones that are two or three dollars, they’re not gonna last very long and they’re not going to be much better than a credit card to you. So make sure you clean off all the windows, all the lights, and you know you’re not going to be able to get the snow off the roof of your vehicle for the most part. You can swipe a little bit of it off, but really what you want is the lights and the windows because you want to be able to observe other traffic and you want the other traffic to be able to see you – so lights and windows. So what we’re gonna do here, we’re going to the vehicle here behind me–the one that’s got a bit of snow on it–and we’ll show you how to do that. Stick around we’ll be right back. [OPENING CREDITS & MUSIC] Hi there smart drivers, welcome back. Rick with Smart Drive Test talking to you today about how to clean off your vehicle in the wintertime when it’s covered with snow. Now first thing you do is you get in the vehicle and you’re going to start it up. Now if it’s an automatic transmission, you’re going to make sure that it’s in park. You might have to touch the brake to get the starter to engage on a newer vehicle. If it’s a manual transmission, you’re going to have to push in the clutch. Now all vehicles have been electronic fuel injection since the late-1980s so you put the key into the ignition, turn the key to the ON position. And oftentimes what I tell students, is to get into the habit of putting your seatbelt on. By the time you put your seatbelt on, the electronic fuel injection–the computer essentially–has done a systems analysis on your vehicle. It’s checked the outside temperature and adjusted the fuel to air mixture into the motor, which will make it start easier. The other thing that will help your vehicle to start better in the wintertime is make sure you turn off all the accessories. So make sure that you turn off the radio, turn off the defroster, and any other electronics that you might have operating in the vehicle. That way all of the energy, all of the power from the battery is going to go to the starter. Now the other thing is that once you turn it to the ON position and the warning lights go on and off, then you can crank the engine over. You don’t want to engage the starter for longer than 15 seconds. If it doesn’t start after 15 seconds, turn it off wait 20-30 seconds for the started to cool down – because the starters get extremely hot and you’ll burn it out if you incessantly crank it over. Electronic fuel injection should start within 15 seconds. You don’t need to crank it over for longer than 15 seconds. If you’re at high altitudes–above 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters–and if it doesn’t start on the first go after you kept your foot off the throttle. Push the throttle halfway down and try starting it again. If it doesn’t start again after 15 seconds, turn it off, wait another 30 seconds, push the fuel pedal all the way to the floor, crank it over again and it should start. If it doesn’t start after half a dozen times you’ve got a problem and you probably need a mechanic. So cold weather starts. Turn the key to the ON position, wait for the warning lights go out, keep your foot off the throttle, fire it up. It should fire up that before 15 seconds. Don’t crank longer than 15 seconds. It it doesn’t start in the first go, push the pedal halfway to the floor. crank it again. If it doesn’t start on the second go, turn the key to the OFF position, take your foot off the throttle, wait 20 or 30 seconds, put your foot all the way to the floor on the throttle ,crank it again and it should start. Like I said, repeat that process again. If it doesn’t start after six or eight goes on the starter you probably need a mechanic. So we turn it to the ON position, the lights have gone off and on. We push the clutch in because I have a manual. It’s in neutral, I’ve engaged the parking brake to secure the vehicle against movement. I’ve got it to the ON, the lights have gone off and on, I turn it over. And here and Vernon, BC, Canada right now, it’s about minus 10-12°C (10-14°F) it’s been pretty chilly here for the last week. So this vehicle–even though it’s 1998–it’s almost 20-years- old– electronic fuel injection, turn it to the ON position, wait until the lights go out, crank it over and it fires right up. I’m in neutral, parking brake on, release the clutch. And as I tell students driving a manual transmissions: always release the clutch as if it’s in gear. Bring it up to that friction point and then ease it out. Just get in that habit. That way you’re not going to stall it if it’s still in gear. Okay, then we turn on the heat and defrost. Turn turn the fan on full, turn it to defrost, turn the temperature reading too high. The air-conditioning should come on automatically. If it doesn’t, turn on the air conditioning because it’ll help pull the moisture out of the air and dry out the cabin. Turn on the recirculate – you want to recirculate the air in the cabin instead of having it pull in cold air from outside and trying to heat that up all the time. So actually just recirculate the air inside the cabin. it’s going to heat up faster. As well, most newer vehicles are going to have a rear window defrost, which is essentially just some electric wires that run through the back window and create heat. This feature will defrost the back windows. You want to turn those three things on. The vehicle heat up. You have it on full and then you get out and clean off the snow off the vehicle. We’re going to go out and do that. [CLEANING OFF VEHICLE. MUSIC: MEAN STREETZ DOWNLOADED FROM YOUTUBE LIBRARY] Quick overview of cleaning off your car when it’s covered with snow. Get in the vehicle and fire it up. So you turn the key to the ON position, wait a couple of seconds and let the engine lights go out. When the engine lights go out, then you can fire it up. It actually helps to start the engine up when it’s cold because the electronic fuel injection will check the outside temperature and changes the air to fuel ratio in the motor. It’s kind of complicated, but just wait for the lights to go out. The engine will start better. Then you turn the defrost on high, make sure that the parking brake is on. If you have manual transmission, put it into neutral. If you have an automatic transmission, ensure it’s in park, and the air-conditioning should come on. Most newer vehicles, when you turn the defrost to high, the AC will come on because it helps to remove moisture from the air inside of the cabin. Put the recirculate button on the heater because that will just recirculate the air in the cabin and it will heat up faster. Turn on the rear window defrost on if you have such a thing. Don’t turn the windshield wipers on and just leave it idling. While it’s idling you can get out and clean it off and lfit the windshield wipers up with your hand when you’re outside. It’s going to do less damage to the wiper motor and those types of things when you’re cleaning the vehicle off. And then you can get in and when you start driving turn the windshield wipers on and do the final clean on the the front windshield and the rear window. So clean it off completely. You want to get the snow off the roof if you can, but all the lights and glass for sure. This technique is so you can see other vehicles and they can see you. So clean it off completely, and as well when you get to the other end and you park it and its snowing as it is right now, you can lift the windshield wipers up–as you see here in the image– lift the windshield wipers up. That way they’re not going to freeze to the windshield. And when you come back out you can simply clean the vehicle off again. Question for my smart drivers: do you have a proper scraper in your vehicle and snow brush to clean it off completely? And do you clean it off completely before you take off in the morning. Or do you sometimes get caught out… you’re in a bit of a hurry? Leave a comment down in the comment section there. All that helps the new drivers learning how to drive after they get their license. I’m Rick with Smart Drive Test. Thanks very much for watching. If you like what you see here share, subscribe, leave a comment down in the comment section. As well, hit that thumbs up button. Check out all the videos here on the channel if you’re working towards getting your license or starting your career as truck or bus driver. Lots of great information here. And at our website more great information over there and online courses. Stick around to the end of the video: funny bits and links to the other videos and to my website. Thanks again for watching. Good luck on your road test. And remember, pick the best answer not necessarily the right answer. Have a great day. Bye now. [OUTRO, BLOOPER & MUSIC – RICK UNTANGLING LAVALIER MIC & CURSING] Of course it’s tangled!! that doesn’t take 30 seconds!! [CLOSING CREDITS & MUSIC]

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. How to start your vehicle when the weather is sub-zero, and how to clean off the lights & glass. Be sure to clean off the snow & ice completely to be seen and have other traffic see you. Before cleaning off the vehicle, start the engine and turn the defrost on full, with the air conditioning, recirculate & the rear window defrost. Another great video in the Winter Driving series.

  2. Hey Rick! Thanks again. Awesome video!! Really helpful right now especially since we r getting a lot of snow here in Toronto. I just wanted some tips on how to keep my hands warm while driving. My hands start freezing up real quick and it's a huge pain driving even if I put the heater on high. Do you recommend leather gloves? Thanks once again.

  3. AND NEVER FOLLOW TRUCKS TOO CLOSE BECAUSE BIG CHUNKS OF ICE AND SNOW CAN HURT YOU BAD!!! BIG BIG CHUNKS!!! Lol, just had to warn them! That is one of the worst things that can happen to a little car a slab of ice weighing a hundred pounds or so falling from 13 feet and obliterating their windshield! What a wreck!

  4. yes I always clean all the way around and we have a lot of ice in the south not so much snow so deicer is a big thing!

  5. Thank you so much! I used to think turning on the air conditioning first thing after starting the car would drain my battery.

  6. I'm a new driver from Ontario and just wanted to let you know that your videos are super helpful in learning new driving-related material. Thanksss 🙂

  7. Thanks so much for your video. I learned quite a lot from you. Today, was my very first time driving in a very icy slippery road here in Plymouth Indiana. I moved from CA where there’s no snow on winter. It was so scary. My car was swaying and sliding side by side like a fish trying to swim. I thought my AWD SUV would handle well without an issue during snow, now I’m worried. I don’t like to ice skate nor I wanted to drive on ice in my car. It’s a complete nightmare for me.

  8. What the hell you talking about…..if it dosnt startm…change the spark plugs….injector car should start no problem……you never press the gas pedal on a injector car…

  9. Thank you Rick! love your videos. It has been really cold out here in NY lately. yesterday I came across this video when I came. close to panicking when my car would not start. Everything you said and did here worked for me. Thanks.

  10. thank you, i had to ask someone for a boost the other day, perhaps i wasn't correctly starting my vehicle.. it's 2009, in great shape, etc.. anyway, i've learnt a lot in this video and so far so good.. until i have my battery checked out!

  11. hi bud im at Toronto I just bought a 2004 Pilot last summer this winter every morning the inside windshield is always frozen,

  12. I would also like to kindly add that you should clean out the area under the wipers on the passanger side because that is where air enters the cabin from the outside. If it is blocked it can hurt the cabin air motor.

  13. One winter up here in the Great White North, when it was -40, one person lit up his charcoal BBQ Hibachi, slid it under the engine and 1/2 hour later, was able to get it started.

  14. I have a 99 Ford explorer. Don't I have to let it run for awhile before driving it since it's older or do what you suggest just drive off and it would warm up while driving. Why not turn on the heat to defrost, won't that defrost faster?

  15. This guy is wrong, always remove the snow from the roof because when you start driving and make a swift stop all the snow that is on the roof is going to windup on the windshield and will impair your vision completely.

  16. Most cars don't allow recirculate on defrost, furthermore the air conditioning compressor will not operate at below zero temperatures

  17. It sounds great! I have to leave my car outside for days without starting it. After that it would not start but I will try your advice next time I get stuck

  18. Try brushing off the snow where the top of the driver's door meets the roofline. Start the engine, without revving it. Turn on the rear window heating element, then brush of the rest of the snow. Stay under 30mph if the engine hasn't warmed yet.

  19. Good tips but there are too many people that dont clean off the snow from the total car even the roof and when they start to drive off the snow and ice from there car come flying off and hit the cars around them and it's very dangerous. So clean off all of your car.

  20. Don’t forget to clean off the roof! It is dangerous to drive behind a whiteout or ice flying off a vehicle’s roof!

  21. Do not pour warm or hot water on the windshield, if it has a ding or a crack at the edge it will crack and it will keep cracking Every time the temperature gets freezing and the heat reaches about 100 . If you are going to pour water use cold if you have to

  22. Rick , I have been a mechanic for over 30 years and I have seen it time after time with the water . I really push that no water on windshield when extreme cold . I hope folks will see the comment and take warning . Have a good day rick

  23. Once the car is warmed up and moving snow that's on the roof can slide down your rear window, or fly onto other people's cars.
    If possible, try to remove as much snow from the roof as you can, better to be safe than sorry.

  24. Always keep a good battery and clean the terminals and cables. Use dielectric grease on the terminals and cable ends. Use synthetic oil in engine.

  25. In a manual car , engage the clutch in nuteral , this prevents the engine dragging over a cold gearbox as well as a cold engine.

  26. In NY, it’s illegal to not clear snow from the roof, hood, and trunk of the vehicle. Over the years, I’ve seen countless vehicles’ that have blown huge snow piles off their roof while driving on the highway. Such instances impair the view of the vehicles behind. I’ve seen instances where drivers have swerved to avoid chunks of hardened snow from impacting their windshield due to the carelessness of drivers who didn’t properly clear the snow from their car.
    This is another reason why everyone should get a dashcam.

  27. Thanks for the tips. I’ll try them out tomorrow morning starting my car. I’m in Canada and it’s -20 already, car hasn’t been starting very smoothly.

  28. Is it bad to press the gas down when starting on cold mornings? My car will crank and even fire but will die after a few seconds if I don't rev the engine. Thanks for the vid btw.

  29. I’ll tell you guys what to do in one paragraph. 1. Start your car 2. Wipe down the snow and ice 3. Turn wiper blades or use antifreeze if icy 4. Drive away.

  30. I'm not aware of a modern car that will let you use recirculate with the defrost on! Only with the dash or floor vents.

  31. The 2 best things for us northern guys cars are: an electric block heater, and an electric interior heater.

    My car has both, i usually have them on for 2 hours before starting, never had a problem with starting, and rarely have to use the defroster since the inside is already warm.

  32. Just some moments ago, I was trying to start my car that did actually start but only for a fraction of a second… Then, it decided it didn't want to start.
    Well, I'll try again tomorrow, but I'll keep this video in mind.

  33. This is my first winter driving and I didn't know about recirculating the heat or turning radio and climate controls off before starting the car.

    This might help someone:
    I had one morning where the latch on my drivers door would not close after opening it to start the car while I cleaned off the snow. 3-in-1 White Lithium Grease sprayed in the door latch has stopped it from happening again.

    Thanks, Rick!

  34. Driving your car to heat it up is the dumbest thing you can do you never drive your car or turn your heat on until the car is warm I'm talking like warm up for at least 5 to 10 minutes depending where you live but it's -30 degrees Celsius here and I've seen engines blow up just from not heating it up for 20 minutes first

  35. I delivered a formula of how much time do you need to warm up acording to the out side temp.
    If 50C is the moving temperature
    Out side temp is 20C
    And the average velocity of warming its 10C per minute.
    Time of warm up: 50C-20C= 30C
    30C÷ 10C/min= 3 minutes. You can have a timer fix a 3 min to move. How cool its that.

  36. Ty vm Kind Sir.
    My one starts from first go but crunking it for 10 seconds which brings real bad smell.
    Wonder if I am burning something while .1 0 seconds crunking … it dies smell like burned rubber or plastic

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