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Why Cold Weather Equals a Dead Battery

Our temperatures get below freezing at night here in Columbus, Indiana. You may have headed out to your car in the morning smacking your hands together to try to keep warm. You get into your car, buckle up, put the key in the ignition, and turn it. Nothing happens. Your battery is dead. Why does cold weather equal a dead battery? Automobile Diagnostics explains the reason below.

How Car Batteries Produce Power

Automobile batteries are pretty amazing if you dissect them, but please do not do so. Inside the case are lead plates and sulfuric acid – not a good thing to get on your hands. The lead plates are combined to create a battery cell, i.e. two lead plates equal one battery cell. There is a total of six cells in your battery, and these cells create a chemical reaction when they are immersed in the sulfuric acid. Usually, the sulfuric acid is diluted with water.

How Freezing Temperatures Affect Power Production

The warmer the weather outside the faster the chemical reaction generates power. Because part of this chemical reaction is created by liquid, the colder it is outside the slower the chemical reaction. In subzero temperatures, vehicle batteries can freeze. We don’t usually get that cold here, but your battery will still lose power in the winter when the mercury drops. It’s best to test your battery before winter hits to see how much power it’s generating.

How Much Power Your Battery Can Lose

The reason why we recommend this is simple: When the outdoor temperature reaches freezing, which is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the chemical reaction slows down to the point that your battery will lose as much as 30 percent of its power. About the coldest we get here in Columbus is 20 degrees or maybe down into the teens. If you head to an area where the temperature is zero or below zero, your battery will lose as much as 60 to 65 percent of its power.

How to Prevent a Dead Battery in the Winter

One way to help prevent a dead battery once the weather gets cold is to park your car in a garage whenever you can. Park your car in the garage at home, and park it in parking garages when you’re in town. Even separated garages help to keep your vehicle warmer. Another thing you can do if you have to park outside is to cover your automobile. Cover it while it’s hot and this will help trap the heat for a little while. If yours is three years old, replace it before winter comes.

Automobile Diagnostics in Columbus, IN, would be happy to test your vehicle’s battery and replace it if necessary. Give us a call today or swing by our shop.

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