Emergency services reveal the 12-volt battery is the number one cause of car breakdowns in winter. This is because low temperatures affect its performance and also make the engine harder to turn, increasing the burden. But driver’s mistakes can also destroy a perfectly good battery. Here are the most common mistakes you should avoid, especially in the winter.
Cold weather is a problem not only for humans but also for ICE vehicles. The oil in the engine and transmission gets thicker and this makes the engine harder to turn. That’s why the battery needs to work harder in winter to start the engine. Unfortunately, it’s also affected by cold and its power decreases, making it harder still to turn the engine. This combination often leads to the engine not starting and a dead battery when you need it the most. If you want to avoid killing your 12-volt supply in the winter, you should avoid these common mistakes.
Drive repeatedly on short distances
Repeated short trips are damaging to the car, but the battery is the most affected. After working hard to start the engine in cold weather, it needs time to recharge, but a lot of people only drive the car for a short time, not enough to replenish. In winter, the driver also turns on seat heating and the window defroster, further worsening the drain. No wonder the black brick will go on strike after such an unaffectionate treatment. If you want to avoid a dead battery, you should charge it regularly with a charger.
Forget to switch off consumers
The most classic mistake is to forget the lights on overnight – you're sure to come back the next morning and find you have no power. Modern vehicles turn off their lights automatically, but most of them also keep the power supply on the 12-volt plugs, so external consumers can deplete the battery. Pay attention to dashcam cameras and other accessories that use power even when the engine is not running. They will not kill your 12-volt supply overnight, but when you don’t drive several days in a row make sure you disconnect anything that is not needed.
Don’t pay attention to the dirt on the battery’s terminals
Dirt allows leakage currents to flow between the positive and negative terminals, gradually discharging the accumulator. Connectors should always be kept clean. Otherwise, there is a risk of discharge. Check the terminals regularly and clean them if necessary.
Don’t maintain the battery when the vehicle is not used for a long time
The accumulator discharges itself even when all the consumers are switched off. This is why you should use a trickle charger when you plan to keep the car unused for long periods. A battery that has lost its charge will be affected by sulfationand this is usually irremediable.
Ignore early warning signs
The battery doesn’t just die unexpectedly. Long before that, it will show early signs that should not be ignored. A typical sign is the flickering lights when you cold-start the engine. A weak accumulator will also make it harder for the engine to start long before it will give up completely. You can verify by turning the headlights on when the ignition is also on. If the lights tend to fade, it’s a sure sign your 12-volt supply needs charging or even replacing.
What you should do for a happy battery
Buy a voltmeter and test the voltage. If it’s below 12 volts, you should recharge as soon as possible. When driving short distances in winter, cut the number of consumers to a minimum to protect the battery. Recharge regularly to avoid a damaging deep discharge. Even better, buy a special trickle charger that also helps with de-sulfation.
After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions. Full profile
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