Moscow drivers perfect science of car-starting

Fur hats, blow torches, and shovels are proving useful to Moscow residents as they try to coax their cars onto the road in the coldest start to a year since 1950. Muscovites have been waking regularly to the sound of cars coughing and spluttering in clouds of exhaust fumes as temperatures plunge to minus 22 degrees F.

After a major storm, people often huddle in the snow, warming the underside of cars with blow torches. Some remove the battery from the engine at night and take it inside. Others put methylated spirits into their gasoline to keep it from freezing. Some are even more innovative.

``I find wrapping my shapka [fur hat] around the battery at night helps my car start,'' a Western resident said.

Some citizens familiar with the rigors of winter abandon their cars for the season, and their machines slowly vanish in mounds of snow by the roadside.

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