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Taking care of your battery in cold weather

calendar Published on: Sunday, 20th January 2019 | female icon Author: Aminta Gagnon

Your car not starting in the winter is frustrating, particularly when you need to get somewhere fast. The most common cause of problems in cold weather is your battery. Sometimes this can be fixed easily by jump starting or recharging the battery however they could be a more complicated underlying cause that needs extra attention.

How do I know if my battery is the problem?

One of the key indicators that your battery is the issue is the sound of a whining noise as you attempt to start the car. However, this is not the only indicator of battery issues so there are other signs that you should look out for. Another sign to look out for is the ignition lights failing to illuminate on the dashboard.

How to look after your battery

Winter car battery maintenance doesn't have to be difficult. Flat batteries are the number one cause of breakdown call-outs in the UK during winter. Make sure that you aren’t let down by yours with our top tips. From mobile phone chargers to lights and heaters, your car is filled with a wide range of electrical appliances that are used on most car journeys. Appliances such as lights and heaters are used more often in winter which means that extra strain is put on your battery at this time of year. For this reason, it is important to make sure that you switch off all electrical appliances in your car before you turn the engine off. Areas to check include ensuring that no interior lights are left switched on and removing mobile phone chargers.

Not only do you put more strain on your battery in winter but also the cold temperatures reduce the ability of your battery to hold a charge and can cause battery failures. A preventative measure that you can take is to park your car in the garage if possible. This will limit the exposure of your vehicle to the cold weather and keep your battery in better condition. If you have any concerns about your battery or if it is over three years old, we recommend that you get your battery checked to ensure that it won’t let you down in cold weather.

Ideally, the best place to store your car battery during cold weather is indoors but we all know that isn't really practical unless you use your car only very rarely or you only drive it for fun during the summer months. Instead, the best way to keep a car battery warm during winter is to buy a battery insulator. These thermal wraps fit around the battery acting like a little insulated blanket to keep the battery cosy. Many vehicles come with basic models as standard (look to see if your battery is covered in black padding), but can be upgraded to further reduce the effects of the cold weather.

Keeping to your vehicle’s service schedule can help to maintain the condition of your battery as potential problems will be spotted early on which will minimise the risk of battery failure. In addition, a poorly maintained car can put unnecessary strain on the battery making your vehicle more likely to suffer from battery failure. We also recommend trying to take your car on longer journeys. A high number of short journeys can cause the extra strain on the battery by not giving it enough time to re-charge. Following these steps should help prevent your car battery from dying in winter.

Alternator issues

The alternator is the electrical generator which charges the car battery whilst the engine is running. If your battery is having problems with holding its charge even though it’s fairly new, then problems with the alternator are the likely cause. Jump staring your car in this scenario won’t work as alternator problems will prevent the battery from re-starting. Another sign that you may have a problem with your alternator is that your vehicle’s lights may flicker on and off.

Starter issues

The starter does exactly what you would expect it to, it starts the car engine. Again, jump starting won’t work in the case if a starter issue. When the lights and in-car electrics are working well, this usually suggests that the starter motor is the issue as opposed to the battery. If you’re concerned about whether your battery is performing reliably, you can book a free battery check at your local Tyre City.

If either the starter or alternator isn’t working properly, this can lead to your battery not having the correct level of charge or potentially not having any charge at all. This could cause battery failure at an inconvenient time.

Ask a professional

Noises such as clicks as you turn on the ignition, dim or flickering lights on your dashboard are all warnings that your battery does not have as much charge as it should. If this sounds like your battery, you can book a free battery check at your local Tyre City where our professionals will assess the condition of your battery and let you know whether it is performing well.