A battery that is dead or dying can be a nightmare. In fact, during the cold weather months, it is the biggest reasons for the surge in roadside assistance calls.
In today’s world of connectivity, having your phone or other electronic devices plugged into your car’s charging ports doesn’t help the strain and drain on the battery either.
If your headlights seem dim, the engine seems to crank slow or has trouble starting after sitting overnight, your battery is probably the issue. This post discusses why cold weather is hard on your battery:
Cold weather is especially hard on car batteries. According to AAA’s Automotive Research Center, at 0°F, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength and at 32°F it loses 35 percent. During cold temperatures starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions. It is advisable to have your battery tested, as well as your starting and charging systems prior to the deep cold of winter.
In general, the lifespan of a battery is around three to five years. As mentioned, though, with all of the portable electronics that need to be charged along with driving habits and exposure to extreme elements, three years might be closer to correct.
How Does a Battery Work
They are basically a device that translates chemical energy into electricity. The chemical reaction releases electrons, allowing them to flow through conductors to produce electricity.
Even in a more temperate climate such as San Antonio, there are circumstances that can cause battery issues, such as a glove box door that isn’t closing right because it’s too full of junk or a dome light that accidentally gets left on.
Most people just replace the old battery thinking that it is past its prime but if that doesn’t do the trick, what now? This video offers a great tutorial for discovering what is draining my car battery, also known as a parasitic draw test:
The fact that an automotive battery has to work 24/7 to keep the clock, the anti-theft system, the internal memory of the engine’s computers running, etc., means it will eventually wear out.
What Else Can Go Wrong
Luckily, once the engine kicks over, the power is then supplied by the alternator and the battery gets a chance to recharge. But occasionally due to loose or corroded battery connections, you may still have problems.
Here is some information on how to check and clean the battery terminals safely:
When you perform a visual inspection of your battery, you may notice corrosion around the battery terminals, cables, or connectors. The corrosion may not even be noticeable in some situations, or you may see large white, blue, or green blooms of corroded material.
If any corrosion is present between your battery terminals and cable connectors, it will interfere with the ability of the starter motor to draw current from the battery and the ability of the charging system to top the battery off.
Battery corrosion can be cleaned with baking soda, water, and a stiff-bristled brush. However, it is vitally important to avoid getting any baking soda inside the battery cells. It’s also important to note that if you allow a mixture of baking soda and corrosion to remain on the surface of your driveway, or the floor of your garage, you may end up with a stain that is difficult or impossible to remove.
Corrosion can also be removed from battery terminals and cable connectors with sandpaper or a specially designed tool. These tools usually take the form of wire brushes that are very easy to use. After using one of these tools, the battery terminals will look bright and clean, and you’ll get a much better electrical connection.
You also need to assure that the battery connections are tight. If you aren’t sure how to use an amp meter or feel uncomfortable working under your hood, give your San Antonio repair shop a call and they will help track down your battery problem.