Tuesday, August 11

Explained: Why Car Batteries Die in Winter


One of the banes of modern lives is dealing with car batteries in winter, as they have a tendency to die on you in cold weather. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do before and during the coldest spells to decrease the likelihood that you’re going to have one of those dreaded mornings where your car battery refuses to tackle the cold weather.

Look for signs that it’s beginning to struggle

There are a few telltale things to look out for that suggest a car battery might be having difficulty keeping up with the entire auto-electrical system. If your car shows a few of the following indications, it could mean your battery is on its way out:

  • The dashboard battery warning light comes on.
  • The lights dim to yellow instead of white.
  • Hooter pitch changes or sounds unusual.
  • Swollen or cracked battery case.
  • Electronic functions routinely fail.
  • Battery has been used for more than 3 years.
  • Sulfuric smell around the engine bay.

Go for a battery check 

Car batteries, on average, are supposed to last for about three years. Most car battery vendors will do a free check to pinpoint how your battery’s lifespan is shaping up. If you’ve got a battery that hasn’t been replaced in a while, the winter cold might be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back. Have it checked out somewhere so that the experts can tell you how close it is to keeling over.

Give it a charge

Over the course of a car battery’s lifespan, and also depending on the type of use it gets, it will gradually lose its ability to keep a full charge. If you’re someone whose journeys are often short and frequent, and you’re starting your car several times during the day, you’ll run it dry even faster. Although they’re not the cheapest, it can help to buy a battery charger that you can periodically use to get it back to full capacity.

Check the terminals

Clean contact between the battery terminals and the connections is vital for a battery to start the engine seamlessly – so checking the terminals now and then is a good idea. The first thing to check for is that there isn’t any build-up that has collected around the terminals. If there is, disconnect the battery and clean off the gunk to make sure the connection is good. Otherwise, also make sure that the connection is tight and that there’s no play or movement.

Consider a fresh oil change

One of the biggest reasons that batteries can perform badly in winter is because they often need to use more charge to get a car started due to the consistency of the engine oil. In winter, the engine oil tends to get thicker, making the battery do more work to turn it over and start the motor. Having good quality synthetic oil and having your car serviced before the winter months can mean an easier time for your battery because the oil’s consistency isn’t as thick.

If you’re looking for a new car battery, check out PriceCheck’s listings of the most affordable and best car batteries.

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