Batteries hate the cold. Inside that little box under your bonnet there are chemical reactions happening to store and feed out electricity, and as you may remember from your science classes, chemical reactions happen faster when you apply heat. In cold weather, the battery will be weaker.
This slowing down of the battery during the colder months coincides with an increase in demand for power from the car as the temperatures drop. Turning over and starting the engine is more difficult as the oil is thicker and more difficult to churn. At the same time, you’ll be using the fans and heating elements to keep the windows clear and warm your bottom. The wipers are also going to be in demand, and fewer daylight hours mean you are likely to be using the lights too.
This means that a battery which might have seemed fine in summer will suddenly surrender in the winter. To avoid leaving you stranded, it’s a good idea to look out for the warning signs and make sure your battery is ready.Here are our expert’s tips for getting your car battery ready for cold weather.
If you notice your car is slower to start as the weather gets colder, it is time to start thinking about getting your battery tested. But it could just be that it needs a charge, especially if you have been doing a lot of short journeys. If the battery is still weak after you have driven for 20 minutes or more, it is likely to be faulty. The experts at Eden will be able to test it for you and tell you if it is still performing as intended.
There are also some checks you can do yourself. Older types may have transparent cases or a little window so you can see if the level of the fluid has dropped – the water should be covering the lead plates, or there may be a minimum level marked. If the water needs topping up and the battery isn’t sealed, then it is important to use distilled water, which is available from any hardware shop.
More modern batteries may have a smaller window with an indicator inside. If it shows green, the battery is healthy. If you can see red, the battery needs charging or is faulty and will need replacing.
Also check that the terminals and leads don’t have too much corrosion or have come loose. As part of a service, these will be checked and covered in grease or another material to keep them healthy.
The aftersales department at Eden will be able to tell you the right type of battery for your car. This will be based on the size and power originally specified by the manufacturer. It might be tempting to go for a cheaper option with less capacity, and this might seem fine during the summer - but it will show the strain once the weather turns colder.
Some cars will have a car battery cover fitted as standard, which will help protect it from the extremes of temperature. As well as the cold weather, it will also prevent it getting hot. This could be important if the engine bay is particularly cramped or the battery has to live next to a heat-producing component such as the exhaust of a turbo.
Unless you have made any modifications or your car or are using it in very hot or cold weather then it shouldn’t be necessary to fit an extra cover.