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Why Is Cold Weather So Hard On Car Batteries?

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With the average winter temperatures in the 20s, 30s, and 40s here in beautiful Pottstown, PA, it’s no wonder many drivers end up with a dead car battery, but what is it about winter weather that kills car batteries? It doesn’t matter what you drive – Asian, Domestic, European, car, truck, or SUV – cold weather is problematic for automobile batteries. 610AutoHaus explains why below.

What’s Inside Your Car Battery

The most common batteries found in cars, including European automobiles, are lead-acid batteries. Inside the battery case are lead plates. Two plates equal one battery cell, and all of the plates are immersed in sulfuric acid and water. Car batteries are 12.6-volt batteries, and each pair of cells produces 2.1 volts. You have six cells (12 individual plates) inside the battery case.

Instead of producing charges, lead batteries receive and store charges, and in the case of your car’s battery, it gets that charge from the alternator. It stores the charge by producing a chemical reaction between the lead plates and the sulfuric acid/water solution. The side effect of this reaction is lead sulfate builds up on the plates, which reduces the charge-storage ability.

Winter Weather Impact

Extremely cold winter temperatures, like the ones we can get here in Pottstown, slow down your car battery’s chemical reaction. This disables your battery’s ability to hold a charge effectively, as does the increased rate of discharge that occurs in cold weather. Couple all of this with the additional power demands on the engine in winter weather, and you’ve got a dead battery.

Signs Your Battery Is Dying

To prevent getting stranded in cold weather with a dead car battery, have it inspected in the fall to make sure it’s still in good shape. If your car’s battery is over three years old, it’s probably time to replace it. Keep a wary eye out for signs the battery is dying, too. These signs include

  • Slow engine cranks
  • Battery corrosion
  • Dimming vehicle lights
  • Accessory slowdown or failure
  • Odd sounding horn
  • Cracked or swollen battery case
  • Rotten egg smell

If you notice any of these things at any time, head to an automotive service shop as soon as possible to get the battery and the rest of the electrical system checked. Even if your vehicle’s battery survives the winter, the damage done by cold weather can leave you with a dead battery in the spring.

If you drive a European automobile and prefer to bring your vehicle into a shop that specializes in European automotive service and repair, give 610AutoHaus a call. 

Call 610AutoHaus at 610-427-4505 for an appointment today!

Photo by Imageegami from Getty Images via Canva Pro
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