Why is a Car Battery More Likely to Die in the Winter?

Jack Dreyer | Monday 10th January 2022 12:11pm

Cars on icy road

As we enter the thick of winter, we are all reminded that cold weather is not kind to our cars. On frosty mornings, cars trying to start can be heard in every neighbourhood as batteries fail. But how come? And why don’t we get issues with our batteries in summer?

To find out why batteries struggle so much in the cold as opposed to the warm months, read on.

Your battery & cold weather

When you turn the keys in the ignition, the starter motor needs a lot of amperages to start itself. Normally, the battery can provide the right amount without a second thought, but if your battery is cold and/or old, it might not work so well.

Temperatures below freezing can reduce the capacity of any battery — new or old — causing it to not supply the starter motor properly.

In the summer, however, temperatures are more favourable and mild. In British summers especially, the warm temperatures are conducive to strong battery health.

In extremely cold conditions, the battery can actually freeze since it holds its charge using a liquid electrolyte solution. In most cases, though, low temperatures merely reduce the ability of the electrolyte solution to transfer power.

Find out more about how your battery functions in the cold.

What causes batteries to ‘die’?

Reduced capacity

Looking at your battery’s vital statistics helps you get a great idea of how it will perform in the cold. The number of CCAs a battery has (Cold Cranking Amps) gives you an indication of just how many amperes it can produce when cold. The larger the number, the better it can perform in the winter.

Increased starter motor draw

If the weather is particularly cold, sometimes the starter motor will demand more power than usual to start. This is because in cold weather, engine oil gets thicker and the engine becomes harder to turn over. If this is the case, and your battery is also cold, the car might not start.

Increased accessories draw

When driving in icy, dark, cold, and wet conditions, chances are you’ll use your accessories more — that is lights, wipers, and heaters. Since summer has longer days, less rain, and warm temperatures, you end up using your lights, wipers, and heaters less, meaning your battery keeps its charge more.

How to protect your battery in the cold weather

Regular checks

If your battery is over three years old, it is wise to get it checked regularly as they weaken with age. If your battery is not holding a charge for as long as it used to, that is a tell-tale sign that you need to replace it soon. Don’t leave it until your car starts to fail, book in for a free battery health check with Kwik Fit today.

Park your vehicle inside

If you have access to an indoor parking space like a garage, park your car in there when it is not in use to reduce its exposure to the cold. You might also want to consider buying a car cover if you can’t avoid on-street parking.

Regular charging

If you use your vehicle for a lot of short trips, it is advised that you charge your battery at least once a week when it is really cold — especially if it is older than 3 years.

Turn off power drains

When parking, double-check that you have switched off anything that might drain your battery when stationary, such as wipers, lights (interior and boot), the radio, and the heater. As an added tip, try to avoid using the heater when you don’t need it as it also drains fuel too!

Invest in a battery booster

Sometimes, battery outages can’t be helped. But should the worst happen, you can prepare yourself with a battery booster: a rechargeable device that helps reinvigorate your battery quickly and without the need for jump leads.

Contact Us Today

For more information about the performance of your battery in cold weather, read another of our blogs here.

Or, for any battery-related questions, get in touch with the experts at your local Kwik Fit today and book a battery check.

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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