car battery

Why Does My Car Battery Die In Cold Weather?

As the temperature drops, I’ve noticed more and more dead cars on the road. Cars are hood to hood with jumper cables attached, hoping to start before hands freeze. There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning and the temperature outside reads 1 degree; then you go outside and try to start your car with no luck. Why is it that my car battery dies at the WORST possible time? Well, you aren’t alone. The cold weather is very tough on your car battery, and here’s why.

Why Does My Car Battery Die In Cold Weather?

As you Winterize your car, you must never forget to check your car battery. The fact of the matter is that your car battery will last maybe 5 years. However, newer cars have more electronics that are running all the time, and extreme weather changes shorten the life of your battery to about 3 years. According to AAA, “at 0°F, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength and at 32°F it loses 35 percent.” Which means that in cold temperatures you are already losing strength and starting up your car requires more battery strength than in normal conditions; your engine is cold, your oil is cold, and you use more electronics like heat, defrost, and heated seats (let’s be honest now, that’s the best feature the car industry could have ever created).  All of these extras require more oomph, and if your car battery is old, cracked, or not charged completely, you will walk out to a dead car in a snowstorm.

What To Do?

Well, if your car battery is legit dead, obviously you need to try to jump it to get it running. You are going to need a friend with a well-powered car to help you do this, and if you don’t know how, refer to my article here. Two things are going to happen; your car will either start or it won’t. If you can get it to fire off, you need to make sure you drive it at least 30 minutes to charge the battery. Remember, it is cold and your entire car is working extra to keep you (and itself) warm. Now, depending on your battery life and how old it is, this could keep happening. Which is never fun. So, make sure you check your battery year and voltage before the winter cold hits (be VERY careful! Your battery could have cracked and acid can leak out when checking the voltage). Side note: I believe almost every auto store will check your car battery for free if you bring it in. 

If your car does not start up, you are out of luck and need to replace your battery. Take it out and find your local auto store to help you find a new one and to get rid of the old. With a new battery, you shouldn’t have any issues starting your car in the winter.

Warning Signs To Look For As Your Car Battery Dies.

Usually, your car will give you a heads up before killing over. Pay attention to the warning signs below so you are prepared.

  1. Know how old your battery is. Keep a schedule or mark the date on the battery when you bought it. Like I said, with cars and their electronics these days, you should get around 5 years out of your battery. If you live in very cold or hot climates, this could drop to around 3 years.
  2. Dashboard battery warning light is on.
  3. Your car engine cranks a tad more slowly than normal.
  4. Your headlights and dome lights are not as bright.
  5. Electronics start to sound or act funny.
  6. Your car horn sounds unusual.
  7. Your battery case looks cracked. Which is a big warning sign and could also mean that your actual battery has cracked. Be careful taking the battery out and make sure you tell your auto store so acid doesn’t leak everywhere. I’ve had this happen to me and the acid burnt a HOLE through my sweater. Luckily, no one was harmed.

I always stress the importance of knowing your car inside and out to help keep you safe and your wallet happy. Knowing what you are smelling, hearing, seeing, and feeling could all be warning signs. For more on this, check out my article “Quick Guide To Popular Car Problems & How To Fix It!

Take care of your car and it will take care of you. #motorwithconfidence

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