Fewer things are more frustrating than climbing into a cold, frost-covered car only to hear the dreaded ‘clicking’ of a dead battery.
It happens to us all at some point! But why do vehicle batteries fail more frequently in winter?
THE TOUGH LIFE OF YOUR VEHICLE’S BATTERY…
First, a quick refresher on what is happening inside a car battery. Lead acid batteries are the most common car batteries. They consist of a plastic case that houses a series of lead plates immersed in electrolyte — a mix of water and sulphuric acid. Each pair of plates makes up one “cell.” When fully charged, each cell in a lead acid battery produces 2.1 volts. So, a 12-volt battery consists of six cells.
The lead acid battery doesn’t produce a charge, but receives and stores an initial charge through a chemical reaction between the cell’s lead plates and the electrolyte. But as the chemical reaction occurs, the positive and negative lead plates are gradually coated with lead sulphate. This process is known as sulphation, and it reduces your battery’s ability to hold a full charge. To complicate matters, lead acid batteries experience self-discharge, a natural loss of charge over time. Left too long without a fresh charge, a battery can discharge beyond recovery.
Extreme heat or cold can increase your battery’s rate of discharge, making winter a triple-threat to your battery. Exposure to summer’s heat (especially a summer as we have just experienced) evaporates the water in the electrolyte, increasing sulphation. Then winter follows and freezing temperatures slow the chemical reactions occurring inside a lead acid battery, further reducing your battery’s ability to perform. At the same time, a cold engine and sluggish oil demand more power, while power-hungry features like heating and windscreen defrosting place increased demand on your battery. You will not always get a warning before your battery fails, however the best way to find out if it’s time to replace your car battery is to have your battery tested. Prevention is always better than cure…
SO WHY DO BATTERIES FAIL IN WINTER? SEE BELOW FOR SOME INDICATORS THAT YOUR BATTERY IS ON THE WAY OUT…
- Headlights dim yellow instead of white
- Dashboard battery warning light is on
- Electronic accessories fail
- Engine ‘turns over’ more slowly
- Car horn sounds unusual
- Battery case swollen or cracked
- Smell of sulphur or rotten eggs
- Battery is more than three years old
Don’t get caught out this winter.
At BBL Batteries we stock a full range of quality batteries and can both test your existing battery and advise you on the most suitable replacement should you need one.
Please contact us to find out more…
- Bristol - 0117 9550535
- Plymouth - 01752 338501
- Swindon - 01793 616646
- Truro - 01872 270011
- Exeter - 01392 254418
- Head Office - 0117 9550536