Your Battery Hates Winter Too

Written by: Randy Anderson - Technical Sales & Training Manager

Our engines need to start when we require them to: no exceptions. Whether it’s getting you to work in the morning or getting the kids to school on time you need to trust that your vehicle will get you there. This is why it’s important that our vehicle’s battery is in a proper state of health and ready to deliver the power required to start the engine in any and all weather conditions.

The operation of your battery is based on a chemical reaction and temperature plays an important role in its performance. The ideal operating temperature for an automotive battery is 26.7 C (80 F). This is when the battery operates at maximum efficiency. When we experience extreme summer heat or winter temperature drops, it’s hard on lead acid batteries and reduces their life. The power required to start the engine increases while the available power in the battery decreases. This often leads to no-start situations leaving us stranded and looking for a boost. 

Cold temperatures bog batteries down. Just as heat speeds up chemical reactions, cold temperatures slow them down. That’s why a battery can become sluggish in winter, even though its state of charge may remain unchanged.

At colder temperatures, the battery’s ability to provide sufficient power to start and run a vehicle is diminished. That’s why automotive batteries are rated in CCA (Cold-Cranking Amperage). This is the amount of current a battery can deliver for 30 seconds at -18 C without dropping to a specified cutoff voltage. Obviously, the higher the CCA, the better the battery will perform in adverse conditions.

The best way to avoid this situation is by having your battery tested on an annual basis. A good time to do this is when having your vehicle serviced in the fall or when winter tires are being installed. Many garages and service centre’s offer free battery testing as part of their multi point inspections.  If you are a DIY’er, you may be able to replace the battery yourself, but if that’s not your bag, a qualified service tech can usually do this in about 0.5 hours. Whichever option you choose, it is normally less expensive to replace the battery during a planned or scheduled maintenance than waiting until the vehicle won’t start.  At which point, you need to call for an inconvenient and costly boost or roadside assistance.

When purchasing or replacing a battery the most important consideration is that the new battery meets or exceeds the manufactures recommendation for cold cranking amps, reserve capacity or Amp Hour rating.  Depending on what the vehicle specifies.  Saving a few dollars on a battery that does not meet the vehicle specs may not be a great purchase months down the road if the battery fails to start your vehicle and you require a boost or tow.  The other consideration should be the warranty period offered on the battery, if you do not recognize the brand do a quick search on the company or ask your tech how long they have been dealing with the supplier and if they reputable. The important thing is that the supplier or manufacturer will be there in the event of a warranty situation.

 

If you have any questions about this blog, or anything else, please don't hesitate to contact us!

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