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Learn how to start your vehicle in cold weather and clean off ice & snow.

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


Closed Caption


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, put the transmission in Park (automatic) neutral (standard), 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.


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.

Secure the Vehicle

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.

Turn the ignition to the ON position and wait for the warning lights go on and off, then you can crank the engine over.

System Analysis

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.

Starting at High Altitudes

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.

Turn on the Defrost, Air Conditioning & Rear Window Defrost

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.




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 after you start the engine.

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 lift 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.


That doesn't take 30 seconds!!

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