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Old 12-30-2013, 10:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Car kills when put in gear (<0 deg F)

Hello All,

I figured my issue would be more common, but searches turned up nothing. Anyway...it was a balmy -11 in Minneapolis this morning and my car had some troubles this morning. No car likes starting up in -11, but things are usually okay once started, right? Maybe not? I ask because my car died immediately when I put it in gear after a ~1 minute "warm-up". I brought it back to park and tried to re-start it, but the car wouldn't turn over. A quick jump gave the battery the extra shove to get the car started again.

This almost happened the last time it was this cold (about 2 weeks ago), and I expect it to happen again tomorrow morning when the low will be about -15. I've never replaced the starter motor or the alternator. Do you think I need to change those out? Both parts still work, but maybe it's getting to be "that time". Is this even related to those parts? I suppose it could be a stuck valve somewhere, being -11 and all.

Thanks!
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Old 12-30-2013, 11:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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When was the last time the battery was changed?
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Old 12-30-2013, 11:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The fact that it didn't die until you put it into gear doesn't directly lend itself to a battery, alternator or starter issue, though the fact that it wouldn't restart might be reason enough to have the battery and alternator checked. -11 is hell for even a new battery.

Given the temperature, one minute is a rather short warm up time. The oil and transmission fluid are at a molasses like viscosity at that temperature. This is especially true if your transmission fluid is past it's prime. I would start with letting the car warm up for a good five to ten minutes when it's that cold. I'd be willing to bet it solves your issue.

If your tranny fluid hasn't been changed in a while, this might be something to address as well. As it ages, its low temperature performance goes to hell. Synthetic ATF has a real advantage in extreme temperature and may be worth the extra coin the next time you flush it.
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Old 12-30-2013, 02:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Possible the IAC is hanging up
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Old 12-30-2013, 02:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jag1959 View Post
Possible the IAC is hanging up
Like a fly in an ice cube.

I hope you are using your engine block heater tonight.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh what I would give for a block heater. The Focus we have has one, but not this beater of a Sable.

Battery is new as of last winter. IAC probably needs cleaning... I've had a jumpy idle for quite a while but not jumpy/rough enough to get me to start tearing stuff apart.

Trans fluid will be 3 years old this coming May, so you're probably right on that front madscientist.

I'll let it warm up some. I had planned on that already, but I asked anyway in case others have seen different root causes.
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Old 12-30-2013, 03:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madscientist View Post
e.

If your tranny fluid hasn't been changed in a while, this might be something to address as well. As it ages, its low temperature performance goes to hell. Synthetic ATF has a real advantage in extreme temperature and may be worth the extra coin the next time you flush it.
Which synthetic transmission fluid do you use? I thought mercon V only came as semi-synthetic. Are you using amsoil?
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Old 12-31-2013, 07:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The transmission oil and engine oil are thicker yes, but not enough to stall an engine like that. I ran into this issue with my '97 and every so often with my 2005 Taurus. It's common among the Taurus it appears after looking into it over the years. Just give the engine a few minutes to warm up before putting it into gear on cold mornings. There's more then likely nothing you're gonna be able to really do to correct it.
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