Let’s Talk About Cold Weather and Car Batteries

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Car Broken Winter | ER Autocare

Just how cold does it get in Plain City, OH, in the winter? Well, we don’t get as cold as some of our neighbors to the north, but we still see temperatures in the 20s at night. This can make starting your car the next morning very difficult, especially if you park it outside. Why is it that car batteries, in particular, suffer in cold weather? Part of the reason is how they work, so let’s talk about car batteries and how ER Auto Care can help if you end up with a dead battery in the winter.

How Car Batteries Work

A basic vehicle battery works the same whether you drive a compact car or the largest SUV you can find. The batteries have lead plates that sit in a bath of sulfuric acid and water. Two plates create a battery cell, and each cell works with the acid/water combination to create a chemical reaction that charges the battery. The average car battery has a total of six cells that produce 12 volts of power – 2 volts per each cell. If you took chemistry in high school or college, you know how chemical reactions work.

How Cold Temperatures Affect the Battery

The greater the chemical reaction the more power to charge the battery and keep it charged, but there is one thing that affects the speed of a car battery’s chemical reaction: extreme temperatures. In the winter, cold temperatures slow down a car battery’s chemical reaction because the liquid inside the battery freezes. Once the outdoor temperature reaches freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), your car battery’s power is cut by 30 percent. This percentage increases as the temperatures get lower.

Battery Maintenance That Helps

There are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of ending up with a dead battery in the winter. First, check your battery to see how old it is. There is a sticker on the case with the month and year your battery was manufactured. If your battery is under three years old, have it tested just to ensure it’s holding a charge without problems. If it’s three years old or older, consider replacing the battery before it gets really cold outside. Three years is the average lifespan of a car battery.

We’d be happy to help here at ER Auto Care in Plain City, OH. We can test your car’s battery to make sure it will last through the winter. If it isn’t charging or holding the charge as it should be, we’ll replace it.

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