November 5, 2019Getting Your Car Battery Ready for the Winter Months
Getting up and ready in the dark before work is testing enough in the winter but de-icing your windscreen and putting the key into the ignition just to find out that your battery is dead, is the final straw. This month Treadfirst have put together a few things to consider to help you to prepare your car’s battery for the cold months ahead.
Professional car battery checks before winter
Before the harsh winter sets in, it’s good to have your battery checked over by your local professionals at Treadfirst Tyres & Exhaust who could also spot other potential faults contributing to battery failure such as, loose terminals, alternator failure or even a drain, where something may be drawing too much power from the battery (a faulty starter motor or even something that’s still in use that shouldn’t be when the vehicle is turned off).
If there are any early signs of failure, it’s likely that you will face issues with your battery and experience unwanted breakdowns when the cold weather is underway. At this point, it’s advised to replace your old battery with a new one, so that you’re not caught out in the mornings or evenings when you’re using your car.
Signs of a dead battery may be confused with a faulty starter motor not engaging:
- Dim headlights when starting the vehicle [possibly the battery]
- The vehicle sounds sluggish when starting [possibly the battery]
- No lights showing on the dash [possibly the battery]
- The vehicle is clicking when starting but not turning over [possibly the battery]
- Nothing at all when turning key, no clicking, but all of the dash lights are being displayed [possibly the starter motor]
- If you attempt to start your vehicle with jump leads and it works, then it was probably battery related, but if you can not “jump-start” and have to push or “bump start” this is also a sign that your starter motor may be at fault.
Where’s my car battery?
A car battery is typically found under the bonnet but there are some exceptions where a car battery may be found at the rear passenger seat or in the boot. It might also be the case that your car has two batteries, if your car has a particularly large engine – this can be found on cars such as Rollys Royce, Mitsubishi, Mercedes and Porsche.
How your car battery works
Once you start your car’s ignition, the battery supply powers up the motor and this activates the engine. Coinciding with this, the car battery is distributed to spark plugs, which in turn ignites the fuel and air mixture that’s under pressure inside the engine combustion cylinders.
The power being used in this initial start up process is then restored by the alternator. The alternator delivers the bulk of electrical current through your car’s electrical circuit and it’s this that keeps your car’s battery full. This is why it’s good to take your car out for small regular trips in the winter, to keep the battery full and to prevent it from going flat.
As there are increasing amounts of features in a car, the battery has become under increased strain, which means the battery demands full battery power when the key is put into the ignition. Car’s battery can go flat quickly in the winter because the low temperatures cause a chemical reaction which weakens its strength or cranking amperage, causing premature battery failure and sometimes, a lessened lifespan.
How to maintain and check your car battery
To maintain a healthy car battery that works at its optimal level there are some things you can do:
- Check your battery, see to it that the connections are clean (free from dust and dirt)
- You may wish to add a layer of petroleum jelly to the terminal connectors, this will prevent corrosion
- Make sure your terminal connections haven’t been over tightened
- Never wrongly cross car battery connections, this can damage the battery, cause an electric shock or an explosion
Storing your car and protecting a car battery in winter
One very simple thing you can do to keep your car’s battery protected from the low temperatures is to park it in a garage or to keep it shielded from the icy cold breeze. If you don’t have a garage, you may wish to park it close to your house or behind a fence.
Things to remember about your car battery:
Your car’s battery is powering a whole lot of in-car technology including the essential system, driving utilities and in-car comforts, so it’s important to know what you should turn off when attempting to start up your car in winter – to ensure the essential system is ticking over.
Essential systems: getting your car running is the essential system and therefore you will need the basics to be able to start up. Once your engine starts to turn over, your dashboard will light up to indicate that your PCM is running OK and ready for the road.
Driving utilities: controls such as window wipers, indicators, lights, horn and brakes are required for your car to be road-worthy.
Luxury systems: temperature control, music, sunroofs and navigation systems are considered luxuries, and if your car is struggling to start up, these are things you will want to turn off to give it the best chance of starting up.
If you would like a professional eye to take a look over your vehicle so that it’s ready for the winter months, turn to Treadfirst. We have a great wealth of experience within the industry and will always provide a comprehensive and honest service. For more information contact us today and we’ll get you scheduled in at a time that best suits you.