Last winter at least one car in four failed to start at least once, an increase from one in five the year before - and the highest total since 1977-78.
An engine tune-up could make the difference, auto mechanics warn.
Voltage available from the ignition system must exceed the voltage required by the spark plugs to cause the engine to fire.
During warm or dry weather, such high-voltage requirements go unnoticed, but the coming of winter weather can cause engine-starting problems to begin.
Worn spark plugs, reversed coil polarity, defective plug wires, a lean carburetor mix, and retarded ignition timing are a few of the more obvious things that can increase the voltage required.
A battery's starting ability drops 15 percent when the thermometer hits 32 degrees F.; at zero, its starting power is reduced by 35 percent.