Does cold weather affect car battery?

car batteries being tested

Powering your car through the cold

Car batteries first purpose is to provide the car power to start the motor, which we will discuss in more detail. The next purpose of the car batteries is to be a surge protector for the computer. Additionally, the car battery without engine running powers a car for a short-term where the GPS, lights, stereo, or wipers can be used once the car engine is off. 

As we mentioned at the start, car batteries provide power for the car to start. Within the system that starts the car, car batteries have three key things that happen with the help of the battery: 

  1. The ignition switch where you insert your key or push the starter button.
  2. The switch control where the solenoid sends an electrical current to the starter relay and closes the set of contacts.  
  3. Once those contacts close, the battery transmits voltage to the starter, engaging gears to turn and the car starts. 

Car batteries are seemingly simple, relatively inexpensive item that is essential to a car. If the battery isn’t working, the car isn’t going anywhere on its own power. In this piece today, we’re going to answer questions about car batteries, giving you an idea how important this item is to your car and why it needs your attention from time to time. 

Can a car battery just die without warning?

Yes it can, but you don’t have to wait for a car battery to die before you replace it. Out of a thousand drivers surveyed, over half of them admit they wait to replace the battery once it dies. This means that over 500 of those people were left waiting for emergency roadside assistance. 

Car batteries are a 12-volt source of electricity that turns the engine on and keeps a car running until the alternator takes over. The alternator recharges the battery, allowing the battery to have power to start the car again. The alternator used briefly to start the car’s engine and keep it running. As the engine’s power activates the alternator, it generates electricity and recharges the battery so it can start the car the next time. Both the car battery and  alternator need to be in working order because they require each other to keep the electrical system functioning. Both are needed for the headlights, horn, radio, and any other electrical device on a car.

If you want to avoid being one of the 500+ people stranded and waiting for roadside assistance because your battery died, here are 5 things that need your attention: 

  1. The Battery’s Age: Today, most cars require a 12-volt battery, providing your battery with an average life span between three and five years. By paying attention to the battery’s ‘birthday’, you can replace the batter it before it reaches that 5th  birthday. 
  2. Warning Sign It is Dying: If the engine is slow to crank when the ignition is turned, that is often a telltale sign. Another indicator is dim headlights when turned on without the engine running. There should be enough power in the battery and alternator for the headlights to be bright. If your car doesn’t turn over when you turn the key, you only hear the buzzing sound and a clicking sound, which is usually an indication the headlights were left on after you turned the motor off. Your car should start with a jump from another vehicle using jumper cables. If it won’t your car battery’s lifespan has been reached. 
  3. Test Battery for Free: Most auto parts stores and mobile car service companies offer free testing for car batteries for free. With the purchase of a new battery, installation is free, and the disposal of the old battery could be free, or a small handling fee may be added to the price of the new battery. 
  4. Before You Are Stranded: If you have your car battery tested and it fails, or it is slow to cranks, go ahead, and buy the new battery.  The store clerk or technician will be able to help you determine the right size and type of battery you need. 
  5. Battery Maintenance: Just like your home, car batteries need a visual inspection from time-to-time too. Check the battery cables for corrosion – a chalky white substance that will be on top of where the battery terminals connect to your car. If they are corroded, the battery can’t get good electrical conduction. These are easy to clean using a wire brush after you have disconnected the battery. Then apply a grease coating over the battery terminals before reconnecting. 

Can your car battery die while driving?

Yes, car batteries can die while you’re driving the vehicle. You need to get your car off the road as quickly and safely as possible then call for roadside assistance.  What can cause this to happen? 

  • Worn out ignition switch
  • Loss of power from a vibration 
  • Fuel pump goes out
  • Electrical system issue

How long can a car sit before the battery dies?

A common question about car batteries and there isn’t a direct, short answer. There are several factors that can affect the life of a battery, but the average lifespan is two months at the most.  For some higher end cars with a lot of electrically powered bells and whistles, you can expect 14 days.  

What are the signs of a weak car battery? And How do I know if my car battery needs replacing? 

Here we provide you a list of six symptoms you need to replace it before your car battery is dead: 

  • Slow Cranking
  • Check Engine Light
  • Low Fluid Level in Battery
  • Battery Case Bloated and Swelling
  • Leaking Battery
  • It is Old 
battery being installed

On Car Batteries

Are there times that a car battery can’t be jumped? Oh yeah … it happens. Your car wouldn’t start, and you called for off road assistance or a friend. They arrive, connect the two car batteries with jumper cables and your car still won’t start. Why? There could be one of several reasons: 

  • Your car battery is completely dead
  • Your car’s battery terminals are corroded, damaged, or loose
  • Your car’s alternator is bad
  • Your car’s starter is bad
  • Your car’s neutral safety switch is bad
  • The jumper cables are bad

It may not be the starting system and with that comes a list of other possibilities: 

  • Fuel pump
  • Out of gas
  • Clogged fuel filter
  • Computer failure
  • Catalytic converter problem
  • Carburetor or fuel injection problem
  • Timing belt problem
  • Spark plugs worn out
  • Water froze in fuel line 

At the end of the day, we recommend that you have your battery checked each time you have your oil changed or any other work is done on your car. Keeping it in good shape is as important as keeping gas in the tank. Call 847-895-9131 today for your auto repair service.