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Does the Cold Weather Kill Your Car Battery?

During the colder months, more and more drivers find themselves facing a vehicle that simply will not start. Is the cold weather to blame? The answer is more complicated than it may seem—especially for drivers in the south. Learn more about cold weather’s impact on your car battery here. 

How Cold Weather Impacts Car Batteries

So does cold weather kill your car battery? Yes and no. Cold temperatures put severe stress on your battery, which is why the winter season is often a catalyst for car battery replacements. The cold weather has your vehicle facing two challenges at once: power loss with slow chemical reactions and oil/engine troubles.

Power Loss and Slow Chemical Reactions

Freezing weather drains your battery power by 30-60%. Your battery naturally recharges as you drive—but you must first face the challenge of getting it started. Why does the cold drain battery power?

Most batteries work through an electrochemical reaction, which sends power signals to your terminal ends. This chemical reaction slows down in colder weather, weakening your battery’s power. 

Oil and Engine Troubles

In the colder weather, your vehicle’s oil becomes much thicker. Low temperatures also strain internal components, like the radiator, belts, and hoses. Collectively, this slows down your engine—causing it to need an extra surge of power to start. Combined with the fact that your battery has less power to offer, this can prevent your engine from turning over. 

The Secret to Dead Car Batteries in the Winter

You might find yourself thinking, “It is not too cold—why is my battery dying?” This is a common issue for drivers in the south. The freezing winter temperature does put stress on your battery, but this is not often what kills your battery. Ultimately, the true killer of car batteries is the summer’s heat. It causes internal battery corrosion and evaporates the electrolytes that your battery relies on.

Summer damage then leaves your battery unable to fight off the stress of cold weather. For drivers in the south, this means that your car battery faces extensive summer deterioration. Then, when the weather becomes cold, your battery does not have the structural integrity to manage the added seasonal challenges. If you need help getting to the mechanic for a battery replacement, here is our guide to helping your vehicle start when it is struggling in the cold.

Tips for Protecting Your Car in the Winter

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to combat winter battery troubles. Here are some tips on protecting your battery from the impacts of cold weather

  • Address corrosion: Corrosion on your battery can drain its charge. It can also inhibit the electrical conduction that is responsible for starting your vehicle. If your vehicle is having a hard time starting, corrosion may be the source of these issues—not necessarily your battery. That is, you may be able to extend your battery lifespan by having a technician clean or replace your corroded terminal ends
  • Oil changes: It bears repeating that your engine oil plays a key role in keeping your battery and engine protected. Make sure that you keep up with your oil change schedule—especially in the winter months.
  • Summer car care: We cannot emphasize this enough. The summer heat here in the south destroys car batteries from the inside out, leading to immediate failure or failure in the winter season. It is necessary to protect your car battery from the summer heat and bring it in for your regularly-scheduled maintenance visits.
  • Park your car in your garage: When possible, parking in a garage can help keep your vehicle and your battery protected from the effects of cold weather.
  • Cover your car overnight: Vehicle covers may be also able to help you lock in some of the heat and protect your vehicle from ice. 
  • Minimize battery usage: Make sure to turn off your car lights when not in use and unplug any chargers to minimize your battery depletion. 
  • Give your battery time to recharge: Your alternator recharges your battery as you drive. Short drives and drives with frequent stopping/starting do not give your battery much time or support to recharge. Taking your car for a longer drive every once in a while may help boost your battery. Here are some tips on driving in wintery weather.

Chapel Hill Tire Battery Services

Whether you need new terminal ends, corrosion cleaning, a car battery replacement, or an oil change, Chapel Hill Tire is here to help. We have 11 Triangle-area locations across Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex, Cary, and Carrboro. Chapel Hill Tire proudly offers transparent pricing on our services page and coupons to make our vehicle services as affordable as possible for drivers. You can make your appointment here online or give us a call to get started today!

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