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How the Cold Weather Affects Your Car Battery: Mechanic Insight

The only thing worse than a dead car battery is when you’re left stranded in the cold. Unfortunately, car battery failure is especially common during the colder months. Our local mechanics are here with insight into how the cold weather impacts your car battery.

Slowed Battery Mechanics

As you might know, cold weather can reduce your car battery’s capacity by 30% to 60%. So why does the cold weather drain your battery? This is a complicated process, but essentially, the cold weather interrupts the battery’s energy production. 

Your battery charge is fueled by an electrochemical reaction, which produces energy in the form of heat. So, naturally, less heat will mean less energy for your battery. 

Greater Energy Requirements

In addition to losing capacity, your battery will work harder in cold weather. When the temperatures drop, your engine oil and other vehicle components can slow down. As a result, your battery will require more energy to pump these slow-moving parts. The additional stress of overworking can cause winter battery failure. 

Recovering From The Heat

The cold winter weather drains your battery’s charge. However, low temperatures will not cause substantial battery harm. Especially here in the south, the real battery killer is the summer heat

Extremely warm temperatures damage your battery from the inside out. Internal corrosion and evaporation leave your car battery unable to battle the struggles of the winter season. 

Electric Vehicles and the Cold Weather

The cold weather can significantly cut your range if you are driving electric. The exact loss of range will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Your vehicle’s make and model
  • The age of your vehicle
  • How cold the temperature gets
  • The condition of your battery

You will want to plan your travels and charging sessions accordingly to avoid getting stranded with a dead battery. 

Preventing Winter Battery Failure

Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to protect your car battery from the cold weather.

1) Garage Parking

When possible, park your car in your enclosed garage. While this will not fully protect your car from the cold, it will help keep some of that frost away. However, if you are not used to parking in a garage, please note that it is essential to follow some safety precautions to avoid harmful carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Always open your overhead garage door before starting your vehicle. 
  • Once your vehicle is on, quickly exit the garage enclosure. It is not safe to warm up your vehicle in the enclosed garage. Rather, exit to the driveway if your car needs time to heat up. 
  • After parking in your garage, promptly turn off the vehicle. Additionally, you should keep the overhead garage door open until any emissions have had time to clear. 
  • Ensure your smoke alarms double as CO2 detectors and keep them in good working order.

The safety of your home and family is of the utmost importance. You can read more information here from Iowa State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

2) Summer Protection

Perhaps most importantly, keep your battery protected from the summer heat. As mentioned above, heat damage contributes to most premature battery failures. So keep an eye out for signs that the heat is killing your car battery, and take the necessary steps to avoid damage. You can read our full guide on protecting your car battery from the summer heat.

3) Battery Checks

You can have your battery checked and serviced at a local shop. Your mechanic will clean or replace corroded terminal ends. Additionally, an expert can check the overall health of your battery. If it is near the end of its lifespan, your mechanic can replace it before you get stuck out in the cold. 

You can read more in our guide to when you should change your car battery

4) Have Your Engine Oil Changed

If you are worried about winter battery failure, take a moment to check the quality of your oil. As mentioned above, slow-moving engine oil can strain your battery, causing your car to overwork. This issue is made even worse if you have old, contaminated, or ineffective engine oil. 

Consider changing out your oil and filter each year as the temperatures drop. Not only will fresh oil minimize winter battery strain, but it can also prevent costly engine damage. 

Car Battery Replacement Near Me | Chapel Hill Tire

These tips from our local mechanics will help keep you from getting stranded in the cold. We proudly offer local battery replacement services in the greater Triangle area with 10 locations across Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. 

Our industry-leading mechanics also commonly support surrounding communities, including KnightdalePittsboroWake ForestHillsboroughMorrisville, and beyond. We invite you to make an appointmentbrowse our coupons, or give us a call to get started today! 

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