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Why Do Car Batteries Become Dysfunctional During the Winter Months?

You’ll rarely feel as frustrated as you would feel after entering a snow-covered, cold car and discovering that its battery is not working.

Fotografie după formular PxHere

This can happen to anyone during the winter months. Of course, if you purchase automotive parts of the highest quality, your chances of facing such issues will be much lower. 

If you are wondering why the life of car batteries decreases when the temperature is low, do read through this write-up. 

Image by stormautomobile from Pixabay

Know the Science First 

Most basic cars of the present generation come equipped with lead-acid batteries. The main reason behind the popularity of these batteries is their high dependability and comparatively low price. These batteries feature a plastic casing that contains an electrolyte solution with multiple lead plates submerged in it. For your information, the electrolyte solution in car batteries is a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. 

A pair of lead plates constitutes a cell. When on a full charge, each of these cells is capable of producing 2.1 volts. This means a 12-volt (technically they are 12.6-volt batteries) battery, you’ll find a total of six cells in it. However, a 12-volt battery is not powerful enough to start a vehicle. 

Image by Pixaline from Pixabay

Lead-acid batteries don’t work by generating a charge. Instead, they receive and store the charge produced during a chemical reaction taking place between the electrolyte and the lead plates. 

As the battery starts aging, the chemical reactions taking place inside it coat both the negative and positive lead plates with a white solid substance, to be more precise lead sulfate. The technical term used for this procedure is called sulfation. According to experts, as the layer of lead sulfate becomes thicker, the battery starts finding it difficult to hold its charge. 

Other than that, lead-acid batteries also undergo self-discharge. As a result, they keep losing their charge gradually over time. And if you leave these batteries for a long time without charging them, they might become permanently dead. 

Causes of Failure of Car Batteries in Winter

If you are a vehicle owner, you must know that extreme temperatures can increase the rate at which your car battery discharges. This makes excessively cold winters big threats to these batteries. When the temperature drops, the chemical reactions responsible for keeping lead-acid batteries functional, stop taking place. This impairs the performance of these batteries. 

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Additionally, the combination of the cold engine and inactive oil demands more power for staying functional. This reduces the batteries’ performance even further. 

Signs Indicating That Your Car Battery Is Gradually Failing 

You must note that your car battery might fail without giving any prior warning. However, still, you must be acquainted with the signs that usually indicate that your car battery is not in good shape. 

  • Slower cranking of the car engine
  • Light blue or white corrosion on the battery’s plastic case
  • Failure of electronic accessories 
  • Headlights emitting dim yellow light in place of white light 
  • A sudden smell of rotten eggs (sulfur has a rotten egg-like smell)
  • A cracked or swollen battery casing 
Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Final Words

If you don’t want to become a victim of the above problem during the winter months, make sure you don’t use a car equipped with a lead-acid battery. Speak to a reputable automotive parts seller to know the best options you have on the market when it comes to car batteries. 

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