Car batteries: After the summer heat comes the deadly freeze
- 40% of car breakdowns are caused by battery failure
- Heat shortens the life-span of car batteries
- Battery replacement should be carried out by a workshop
When temperatures start to fall and winter is just around the corner, it is time to take your car to the workshop and get it ready for the cold season. Although while changing tires, testing lights and refilling fluids are standard procedures, the battery is often overlooked – unjustly, because the continuous operation of windshield heaters, rear window defrosters, headlights and wipers are a constant strain. As the latest ADAC statistics show, approximately 40% of all car breakdowns are caused by batteries. So will your battery make it through the winter? The only way to find out is to have it checked by a workshop.
Batteries age in summer and fail in winter
Winter is usually a time when cold weather proves too harsh for a weak battery to survive – especially if it was preceded by an extraordinary long and hot summer as this year was. Heat dramatically shortens the life-span of a battery, so by the time winter comes, older batteries are close to their limit. “Many drivers think that cold weather does damage to the battery, but it is the heat that is the start of its downfall,” explains Dr. Christian Rosenkranz, Vice President Engineering at Johnson Controls Power Solutions. An outside temperature of +20°C is optimal for a car battery. This year the temperature often climbed over +30°C.
Battery is part of a complex electrical system
As the battery ages, its performance decreases since corrosion and sulfation prevent it from fully charging. If a check reveals that the battery should be replaced, this should be handled by a workshop. In today’s cars, the role of the battery has changed: it does not only provide energy for the ignition and to start the vehicle, but is part of a complex electrical system, powering a wide range of comfort and fuel-saving functions such as air conditioning, seat heaters and Start-Stop systems. Further, the battery is no longer easily accessible under the hood, but may be installed in the trunk or under a seat. Because of this, special tools and expertise are needed to replace batteries in modern cars. In order to ensure a problem-free and safe replacement, this task should be carried out by a specialist.