Why Do I always End Up with a Dead Car Battery in the Winter?
Most people can attest to the frustration that goes with a dead or nearly dead car batter in the wintertime. But the big question is, “Why does my car battery always seem to die in the wintertime?”
Well the truth is, there are several reasons for a dead battery, and during the winter there are even a few extra reasons why this happens. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why you may have a drained or dead car battery this winter so you can try and avoid it!
Avoiding a Dead Car Battery this Winter
Loose cables or corrosion
With two posts on all car batteries, the negative and the positive, there needs to be a consistent and solid point of contact between your car’s connector cables and the terminals on your battery. For those who may not be familiar enough with a car battery, the terminals are those little rounded posts that protrude from the top and they will be marked with a + or a – signifying positive or negative. Positive post should always be connected to the positive (or red) cable coming from your vehicle. The negative post should be connected to the solid black one. Oftentimes, those cables will loosen a little as they swell an contract with weather and humidity changes, even if just slightly. This slight contraction in cooler weather can cause the contact between the post and wires to arc, which is not only dangerous, but also will cause cranking issues. Make sure to tighten down the nuts on your cables so that the connection is solid.
Also, as you’re inspecting your battery terminals, note any corrosion that may be present around the terminals. Usually, this occurs on the positive terminal. Corrosion consists of a white, powdery looking substance. It’s a byproduct of a process called sulfation. Sulfation happens as hydrogen gas is released from the acid in your battery. It reacts with other elements that are present under the hood of your vehicle and causes this corrosion.
If you see corrosion, dirt, grease or any other grime around or on the terminals of your battery, be sure to wipe it with a clean cloth. In some cases you may need something a bit more harsh such as an old toothbrush and some plain baking soda toothpaste. Give it a nice cleaning with that and you should be able to remove the corrosion. Also, check inside the cable connection to remove any corrosion that may be hiding in there.
Another very common reason for a drained or dead car battery in the winter is simply freezing temperatures. Cold weather tends to slow things down. When it’s below freezing outside, a typical vehicle’s battery loses its strength. The colder it gets, the more starting power the battery loses. Be sure to crank your car everyday in the winter, even if you’re not going anywhere, just to keep that charge up. Let the card idle for 5 or 10 minutes to give the battery time to recharge.
Small, trickle chargers are also available if you have a recurring issue. A trickle charger slowly recharges and maintains the charge on your battery without having to worry about the cold weather. These can be found at your local auto parts store for around $25.
We’ve all closed our car up and gone inside for the night, or on an outing, and accidentally left the interior light on. If you’re lucky, it didn’t fully drain your battery and you were able to restart your car. But, if it was a few days and you are just getting back into your car, odds are that little interior light fully drained your battery!
With the cold weather, we all want to rush inside and hang out where the temperatures are nice and toasty, but consider a quick check of your car’s electronics before you run off too quickly. This will help avoid a dead car battery. Make sure you unplug any accessories such as car chargers, dash cams, gps units, as these may pull power from your battery even while they’re not in use. Check to make sure all the interior lights are turned off, even that little light on the visor mirror can drain a battery over several hours.
If you find yourself with a dead car battery or a battery that’s constantly drained, even after you’ve taken the steps above into consideration, then you could have a different problem. Alternators sometimes fail and need to be replaced or repaired. Alternators are the part of your vehicle that are responsible for recharging your battery as the engine runs. Give a shout to the trained professionals here at Auto Clinic of Franklin for a full assessment of your car’s battery and electronic system.
Give us a call, drop us a line below, or just come by our Franklin auto shop to get our expert diagnosis. Stop worrying with a drained or dead battery, we can help!