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Hard cold start--takes a few tries

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 29 Dec 2014, 10:42 pm
mdfrodolives's Avatar
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Default Hard cold start--takes a few tries

I've gone through the threads and found a number that were helpful, but I still want to know from folks back in the north east what they have found most often to be the culprit.

I live in Northern California, and temperature just got down to the low forties this morning--maybe high thirties--for the first time since last winter. Anyway, it was the first morning of actual winter temperatures--frost on the pumpkin; ice on the puddles.

My wife goes to start up our 2003 Limited non-turbo PT, and I hear her cranking the starter, then stopping, then cranking again. Still, the engine doesn't start. Then she cranks a third time and the motor comes to life. I asked her if the engine ran rough or if the Check-engine light came on. She said no.

She started up the car at work (when it was warmer) and the car started as usual.

The battery is nice and strong. The starter is fine--plenty of juice.

Now, last week, I changed the spark plugs, using the Mopar Champion RM14s that the dealer gave me. I also changed the plug wires, the manifold gaskets (at $18.95 x 4, that was a bitch), and I installed a new Mopar air filter.

I've lifted the manifold several times a few years back, so I know how to do it without breaking anything; so I don't think I screwed anything up. Besides, my wife took a 450 mile round trip after my replacing all these items, and had no issues with the car. Two days later, however, this morning, it's hard to start in the cold morning.

I ran a key dance and got no codes--just "done"--because I thought a code for the map sensor or Iat would show up. But I got no stored code. And I clearly heard the fuel pump running as I did this. And, as I said, the car started up fine when the weather turned warmer, later in the day.

So--for those who live in the colder climates and had cold-start issues, what was your most prevalent issue?


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Old 29 Dec 2014, 11:30 pm
quicksilverdon's Avatar
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Default Re: Hard cold start--takes a few tries

One incident and you think you have a problem?
See if it recurs, then worry.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 30 Dec 2014, 12:48 am
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Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
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Default Re: Hard cold start--takes a few tries

I would suggest that if you have the same thing happen again you might want to check the fuel pressure after it has been sitting in cold temperatures. Fuel pump can be running but not putting out enough fuel pressure.
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Old 30 Dec 2014, 07:20 am
LionPT's Avatar
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Location: Central Florida
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Default Re: Hard cold start--takes a few tries

I used to live in Maryland, 90% of the time this would be a battery. You might have a new battery, but in the cold...the cold cranking amps are what counts.
Now living in Florida I don't have to worry about that anymore.

The other 10% would be the starter, sticking solenoid when cold.

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Old 30 Dec 2014, 08:59 am
Schlyder's Avatar
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Location: southeast Sasktchewan, Canada
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Default Re: Hard cold start--takes a few tries

Sounds like the battery. If it starts fine when warmer, but struggles when cold.... 99% of the time it will be a weak battery.
How old is the battery? If it is over 4 years old, it is time to replace.

Having a good battery is a top priority for winter conditions where I live. And having a set of booster cables.
It's been in the -40c/-40f range here for the last 3 days... Even with a vehicle's block heater plugged in for hours, if you have a weak battery in these conditions, it may not crank over the engine. Not plugged in... forget it. It won't turn over even with a good battery. LOL
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Old 30 Dec 2014, 12:53 pm
mdfrodolives's Avatar
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Default Re: Hard cold start--takes a few tries

Thanks for the replies, guys. The Mopar battery was a replacement for the Mopar battery that was a replacement for a Sears battery that was a replacement for the original Mopar battery.

I'll start with the battery and see what's up.

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