Car Batteries and Cold Weather

February 8th, 2017

It’s a cold morning and you go to start your engine…and you notice right off that it’s turning over too slowly for it to catch. Next thing you know, you’re hearing that Battery Maintenance in Dothan AL discouraging “click…click…click” that means you’re not going anywhere, anytime soon.

Why are automotive batteries so much more stressed in cold weather?

It’s chemistry, really. Batteries haven’t changed much in 80 years. An automotive battery is comprised of six cells wired together in series; each cell produces roughly two volts, for a total output of about 12.6 volts. Inside a battery cell is a lead plate that serves as the cathode, a lead plate coated with lead dioxide, serving as the anode, and a sulfuric acid solution which acts as the electrolyte.

When the battery discharges,  the acid reacts with the lead plates, turning their surfaces to lead sulfate (and reducing the potency of the acid itself). When the battery recharges, the chemical reaction is reversed and lead sulfate is re-formed into lead dioxide. The problem with any rechargeable battery, however – whether it’s in your car, your laptop or your phone – is that it can only stand so many charge/discharge cycles before it starts to weaken.

This process is slowed down dramatically in cold weather; at 35 degrees, your battery can only hold and deliver about half the amperage and current it can at 70 degrees. On top of that, conventional motor oil tends to thicken and become viscous. Not only is this bad for the engine, as oil needs to make it to the engine’s upper end components like the cam bearings and valvetrain, it’s also making it harder for the battery and starter to turn the engine over.

It might be February already, but we’ve still got some cold weather ahead of us. Before you find yourself stuck someplace hoping for a jump start from a kind stranger, make an appointment with us at RoadMart, Inc and let us test your battery and charging system. If it’s looking iffy, don’t just put it off – we’ve got a great selection of top-brand batteries, one of which will be perfect for your vehicle! 

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101