Winter is definitely the season to be jolly, but it can also be stressful… and not just for us, but for our cars too!
This year has so far seen temps below average and I have heard quite a few foreboding sounds of car engines refusing to start!! Not what anyone needs when its cold and traffic will be building up the more you are delayed!!
So why does it choose the coldest most inconvenient time to run flat?
Unfortunately, car batteries contain chemicals ( not mice!! ) that require a certain temperature before they can work effectively, in the cold winter these chemical processes struggle to work. Added to this is an increased workload as engine oil thickens in the cold, making it even harder for the battery to crank the engine into life! It is more common the older your car battery, but it can also happen in some cars after just 3 years! it all depends on the Cold Cranking Amp (CCA) rating of your battery, the higher the score the greater amperage the battery can supply. The amperage is recorded by testing at -18℃ for 30 sec, a battery that gives out 500 Amps will have a CCA rating of 500, the range for all batteries is from 300-600, not much of an issue in young cars, but the older the battery and the more drain we exert on it, the more initial power it will need to start effectively.
Hints and tips to avoid the non-starter!!
It’s not all doom and gloom and there are things we can do to make for a better start in the morning, before considering investing in a new battery.
After your previous journey, try to make a habit of turning off as many functions as possible before turning off the ignition, such as Heating and AC, demisters, headlights, wiper blades and unplug any devices such as chargers. All these drain from the battery and increase the starting workload for your battery the next time you start it.
Try to keep the fuel tank topped up, in the winter fuel can condense and form ice in empty tanks and in the pipes, fuller tanks prevent this.
If your car is not kept in a garage, try to keep it warmer via other means, such as car covers or even purpose made battery blankets!
Always depress the clutch pedal! This reduces the load on the battery when starting.
Between attempts to start the engine, leave it for a few moments, allowing it to recover before hopefully being successful the next attempt.
If you have regular problems starting your car or are at risk of being stranded when travelling, there are handy battery chargers that can be stored in the boot for emergencies and just clip onto your flat engine to give it the boost it needs to crank the engine. If all else fails, it may be worth investing in a battery with a good CCA score and remove the winter worry!!