When the temperatures drop in the winter months, car batteries are known to fail. With this in mind, battery manufacturer Johnson Controls wanted to put consumers on alert. They have highlighted four main reasons why car batteries fail and have provided tips on how to safeguard against these problems.
Johnson Controls is the world's largest manufacturer of automotive batteries. The company always advises that drivers know the condition of their vehicle's battery because of the important role it plays.
It can be argued that the battery is a more crucial component than ever before. Cars today are very complex and filled with electronic equipment and systems. Start-stop systems, collision warning devices, infotainment systems and more have to be supplied with electricity.
Yet, most drivers don't pay much, if any, attention to their batteries. That is, until their engine refuses to start. According to Johnson Controls, every third car breakdown is caused by battery failure. Furthermore, the battery maker tested more than 67,000 vehicles in Europe and found that every fourth car driver has a weak battery.
These vehicle breakdowns and starting problems happen more frequently in cold weather. And if your battery is weak, you aren't helping matters. You're only increasing the potential of underperformance or a breakdown.
So, in order for drivers to better protect themselves, Johnson Controls has highlighted the four main causes of battery failure. They are: extreme temperatures, irregular use, short trips and the age of the vehicle. The company also explained ways drivers can safeguard against them happening.
1. Extreme Temperatures
Both extremely high and low temperatures can result in a battery failure. But seeing as it is winter time, let's focus on the cold.
Cold weather causes a car battery to lose capacity. In addition, starting a cold engine requires up to twice as much current as needed under regular conditions. This combination can put a real strain on your battery, which is why weaker ones die in the winter.
The only way to prevent this from happening is to periodically have your battery checked by a qualified service center. They can see if your battery is weak before you are stranded in a parking lot in the cold of winter. It can also help if you keep your vehicle in a garage, where it is warmer, instead of outside.
2. Irregular Use
Certain vehicle systems need electricity even when the car is not in use. These include navigation systems, alarms and locks, keyless-go functions, and more. This means that they are still using the battery's energy.
So, if your vehicle has sat unused in your garage for an extended period of time, you may find that it will not start. This is especially true if the weather has been cold and/or the battery is older.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution. You just need to make sure you drive your car at least once a week for ten or more minutes. This will allow the battery to recharge and should help you prevent starting problems.
3. Short Trips
However, on short distance drives, the battery is not able to fully recharge. Plus, in the winter, most drivers crank the heat and use heated seats if they have them, further draining the battery. Johnson Controls' solution: take your car on a long-distance drive once a month to allow the battery to fully recharge.
4. Age of the Vehicle (and Battery)
With increasing vehicle and battery age, power can decrease. This happens due to natural corrosion and sulfation, which prevent proper charging. The risk of failure increases with decreased battery power.
Motorists should have their batteries checked on a regular basis. A trained mechanic can ensure its performance and state of charge are up to speed. For reference, the average lifespan for a vehicle battery is just three to five years.
The Bottom Line
The best way to stop your battery from failing is to routinely have it checked, avoid long periods of inactivity, and make sure you drive it for a long time every now and again. It's better to be safe than sorry, because waiting for a battery failure during a Canadian winter is asking for trouble.
If you don't think that your car can handle the stresses of winter, it might be time to get a new one. If you have bad credit and need to get approved for a car loan, Canada Auto Loan is here to help. We are connected to leading auto dealerships throughout the provinces and territories who can help you get approved. Get started today by completing our free and easy application.