Car Shake When Cold

Why Does My Car Shake When Cold?- Here’s What You Need To Know

Are you experiencing car shakes? This is called a ‘cold start’. Although it can be very frustrating, there is no need to panic. You just need to look into the causes behind this issue.

So, why does a car shake when cold? Mainly, the problem arises because of 

  • Fuel-related issues 
  • Battery-related issues
  • Ignition system issues
  • Fuel injection system issues

These issues can manifest in various ways, such as difficulty starting the engine, a rough idle, or stalling.

Now let’s delve into the root causes of a cold start and find solutions. This article will explore all the issues in detail.

Causes And Solutions Of Car Shaking When Cold

Causes And Solutions Of Car Shaking When Cold

Here is why your car shakes during cold weather.

1. Dead battery 

Cold temperatures can significantly reduce a battery’s power output, making starting the engine difficult. 

Car Dead battery


Make sure the battery is fully charged before the winter months arrive. Also, consider getting a battery blanket to keep the battery warm while maintaining its power output. 

Also, ensure that the battery connections are clean and tight. You can clean clogged connections with a wire brush.

2. Cold Engine oil 

Fuel and oil can thicken in cold temperatures, making it more difficult to flow through the engine and start. This can also lead to a rough idle and stalling. 

Cold Engine oil


Check the oil level before the winter months and top it off if necessary. During the winter, it is also a good idea to use a thicker oil, such as a 5W-30 or 10W-30, to help the oil flow more easily.

3. Clogged Fuel Filter

Condensation can form in the fuel tank due to cold temperatures, clogging the filter and preventing fuel from flowing to the engine. 

Clogged Fuel Filter


If the filter has become clogged, you must replace it. Remove the old fuel filter and clean the fuel filter housing before installing a new one.

4. Spark Plug Failure

Cold temperatures can cause spark plugs to wear out more quickly, resulting in misfires and difficulty starting the engine. 

Spark Plug Failure


If the spark plug is damaged, remove it with a spark plug socket and install a new spark plug. Then tighten the replacement to the recommended torque. 

5. Tire Pressure

When the temperature drops, the air inside the tires contracts, lowering the pressure. This can cause the tires’ grip on the road to deteriorate, resulting in shaking and instability.

Tire Pressure


Check the tire pressure regularly, especially in cold weather, and inflate tires to the recommended pressure. This is typically located on a sticker inside the driver’s door or in the owner’s manual.

6. Wheel Alignment

When snow and ice accumulate on the wheels, the tires become unbalanced, resulting in a shaky feeling. Cold temperatures can also cause suspension components to contract, resulting in misalignment.

Wheel Alignment


Use a snow brush to remove snow and ice between their wheels’ spokes. You can also have a professional mechanic align the wheels. 

Read:  Why Does My Car Shake When Changing Gears? Causes and Solutions

Here is a video showing how to go about this.

7. Brake Problems

Cold weather can cause brake pads to harden, rendering them less effective at stopping the vehicle. It can also cause warping of the brake rotors, resulting in shaking and vibration when the brakes are applied.

Brake Problems


Have a professional mechanic inspect the brakes. This ensures that the brake pads are in good shape and the rotors are not warped. Brake pads and rotors should be replaced to ensure proper braking performance.

8. Cold battery

It may take longer for the oil to circulate and lubricate the moving parts when the engine is cold. As a result, the engine may shake when it starts. 

The shaking should stop once the engine warms up. If the vibration persists after the engine has warmed up, there is likely an underlying problem that must be addressed.

Cold battery

Other Reasons for Shaking

  • Worn engine mounts: Engine mounts hold the engine in place, and when they are worn or damaged, the engine can move around and cause the car to shake.
  • Low transmission fluid levels can cause damage or wear on the transmission and its internal components. This causes smooth gear shifting problems, resulting in a shaking or jerking sensation. 
  • An incorrect gear ratio may cause the gears not to engage properly, causing a shaking feeling. 
  • Another cause of car shaking is worn transmission mounts. Transmission mounts are responsible for attaching the transmission to the car’s frame. When they wear out or become damaged, the transmission can shake excessively and causes the vehicle to shake.
Why Does My Car Shake When Cold

How To Maintain Your Car During Cold Seasons

Proper car maintenance in cold weather can help prevent breakdowns and ensure your vehicle runs smoothly throughout the season. Here are some tips for winter car maintenance:

How To Maintain Your Car During Cold Seasons

Examine your battery

Cold weather can strain car batteries, so ensure your battery is in good working order before the cold weather arrives. Ensure you have it professionally tested to ensure it has enough power to start your car in cold weather.

Check your tires

Cold weather can cause tire pressure to drop, affecting your car’s handling and braking. Check that your tires are correctly inflated and have sufficient tread to provide good traction on snowy and icy roads.

Check your tires

Check your brakes

Cold weather can reduce the effectiveness of your brakes, so have them checked before the cold weather arrives. Check that they are in good working order and that the brake pads are not worn out.

Check your windshield wipers

In cold weather, your wipers may become frosted on your windshield, making it difficult to see while driving. Check that your windshield wipers are in good working order and that you have a sufficient supply of windshield wiper fluid.

Check your windshield wipers

Check your heating and cooling system

Because cold weather makes it challenging to keep your car warm, ensuring that your heating and cooling system is in good working order is critical.

Read:  Car Shakes When Accelerating (Solved!)

Fill your car’s radiator with antifreeze

In cold weather, anti-freeze helps keep the engine from freezing. Check the amount of anti-freeze in your car’s radiator.

How To Maintain Your Car During Cold Seasons

Examine your oil

Cold weather can make it difficult for fluids like engine oil and coolant to thicken to flow correctly, making it more difficult to turn over. This can lead to problems like overheating or decreased visibility. Check that your car has the proper type of oil for cold weather and that the oil level is correct. 

Examine your oil
If your car shakes or vibrates when driving, you might find our articles on why your car shakes when driving over 60-70 mph and why your car shakes after a brake change helpful. Our article on why your car shakes when driving over 60-70 mph explores possible causes for the issue, such as tire balance or alignment, and how to fix it. Meanwhile, our article on why your car shakes after a brake change provides information on common reasons for shaking after a brake job and what you can do to address the problem.


Here are other related questions.

Q1. Why does my car feel like it’s shivering?

Your car may be “shivering” due to an engine or transmission problem. This could be caused by several issues, including a faulty engine mount, a faulty transmission mount, or even a faulty driveline. It is best to take your vehicle to a mechanic who can diagnose the issue and recommend a solution.

Q2. Is it normal for a car to shake when cold?

No. It is not normal for all cars to shake when cold. However, it can occur due to low tire pressure, worn-out engine or transmission mounts, or a malfunctioning suspension system. 

It’s best to have the car checked out by a mechanic to figure out what’s causing the shaking and make any necessary repairs.

Q3. Can a cold engine cause the car to shake?

Yes, a cold engine can cause the car to shake because the engine is not operating at peak efficiency. This can result in uneven combustion and vibration or shaking. It is customary to shake slightly, but this should subside as the engine warms up.


Car shakes when cold can be caused by several factors, including low tire pressure, poor wheel alignment, brake problems, and a faulty battery. To ensure that your car runs smoothly and safely in cold weather, check these components regularly and address any issues. 

Regularly inspecting and replacing brake pads and rotors can help prevent brake problems and shaking. And finally, having a professional mechanic inspect the battery and keep it warm in cold weather.

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