If you’ve ever been stranded in the cold weather unable to start your automobile, you know how hard frigid temperatures are on car batteries. There are many reasons why batteries are more prone to die in the winter than they are in the summer. SpringMasters Auto Repair explains the correlation between the two below, and also offers suggestions on how to keep your battery charged in the winter.
Car Batteries 101
Let’s have a very basic class about how vehicle batteries work. Lead and lead dioxide plates are combined to form battery cells, usually 6 cells made from 12 plates. Each cell can produce 2 volts, so a car battery is a 12-volt battery.
To energize the battery, the battery cells are covered by sulfuric acid and water. When the lead dioxide touches the solution, it produces ions and lead sulfate. The ions make contact with the lead plate in the cell and produce hydrogen and lead sulfate. This chemical reaction creates electrons.
Cold Weather and a Battery’s Chemical Reaction
When the mercury drops in the winter, the battery’s chemical reaction slows down. Once freezing, a battery will lose as much as 35 percent of its power. When the mercury reaches zero or below-zero, the battery power is reduced by 60 percent or more. This is why your battery dies easily in cold weather.
Naturally, a battery with limited power will make it much more difficult to start your car. The battery also has a harder time recharging until the engine is warm and the chemical reaction picks up speed again. Cold weather weakens your car battery by slowing down the electron-producing activity.
Other Reasons Why Car Batteries Die in the Winter
Cold weather isn’t the only thing that kills car batteries in the winter. We do, too. We run more things in the winter, including our car’s heaters, defrosters, and headlights. This adds extra strain on a car battery that might already be weak. We also tend to rush inside for warmth and accidentally leave the headlights on or accessories plugged into the charger and USB ports.
Wet conditions can also cause battery trouble. Between the cold-weather problems going on inside the battery and rain and snow outside, your battery terminals are more prone to corrode in cold weather, and this can affect the electrical flow between the battery cables and the battery terminals. Check your battery regularly for corrosion, clean the terminals when they need it.
If your car battery is three years or older, it might be time for a new one. Call SpringMasters Auto Repair in Stickney or Chicago, IL, today to schedule a battery test and inspection.