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Why do Car Batteries Die When it’s Cold?

Winter and extreme cold can do a number on your vehicle. Not just with all the ice, snow, and salt on the roads, but the cold can also impact things under the hood. Car batteries for one, commonly die in the winter—especially older batteries after a hot summer. Why does this happen? Here are a few reasons why a car battery fails in the winter and what you can do to prevent problems.

  1. Cold Slows Down Chemical Reactions

Heat speeds up chemical reactions and cold slows them down. With a typical battery, there is a chemical reaction that allows it to have and hold a charge. So in the winter, you might notice your battery becomes sluggish. This can happen even if it remains unchanged. To nip this cold weather problem, think about installing a battery blanket, especially if you have to park your car outdoors in the cold winter months. Just be sure to check your owner’s manual and correctly install the battery blanket by following the instructions.

  1. Your Car Works Harder in the Winter

Have you ever tried sucking molasses through a straw? When the temperatures drop, some of the fluids in your vehicle thicken—especially oil. And when the oil thickens, it means your car requires more power to operate, at least until the engine and fluids warm up. This can prove to be a challenge for some car batteries, especially for older batteries where some of the important battery fluid has evaporated. Check the age of your battery by looking at the casing. You also want to make sure your battery has the right cold cranking amps or CCA number for the local climate. You might consider using synthetic oil that holds up better in colder temperatures.

  1. Pulls from Power Hungry Features

There are several things that tax the life of your battery and when starting your car in the cold, it is a good idea to limit things that could pull from that charge. Before your start your car in the cold, make sure your headlights, radio, and heating are turned off. You also want to limit the number of gadgets you ask the battery to charge while you are driving. When you don’t need them, unplug the chargers for your phones, tables, and other electronic devices. And though the battery does not immediately run down while you charge a device with the engine off, this practice can diminish your battery’s capacity over time.

Call Holly Tire for Battery or Auto Repair

If you ever have questions or problems with your battery and need auto repair, call Holly Tire. We have been providing quality service and reliable auto repair in Ortonville, MI and the surrounding area since 1991. All of our technicians are ASE certified and feel a personal obligation toward every customer. Stop by 15140 N. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 to schedule an appointment or talk with one of our professionals.


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