My Car Battery Died In Cold Weather – Comprehensive Guide

My Car Battery Died In Cold Weather – Comprehensive Guide

Batteries lose efficiency when it is cold due to their structure.

Typically, the current is created by the circulation of electrons between two metal terminals immersed in a liquid (or a gel) containing a mixture of water and sulfuric acid.

For this process to run smoothly, the ambient temperature must be around 20 ° C.

At the low temperature, the electrons no longer have enough energy and they operate at idle.

The battery can then lose up to 50% of its capacity and may even end up not generating enough energy to start an engine or operate a device

If you want to know more about the dead battery in cold weather, we are going to explain it in detail now.


If you drive under normal conditions, the battery life span is usually 4 to 5 years.

There is, however, a fairly noticeable difference in the lifespan of the original and non-original batteries.

My Car Battery Died In Cold Weather What Should I Do

This difference comes from the loss of capacity of a battery that has been stored for a long time. Its performance declines gradually and irreversibly.

Although identical in construction, your spare battery may have a shorter lifespan than the original. Therefore, certain batteries show signs of weakness after 3 years (or less), while others display perfect health after 10 years of use.

Battery performance in the winter depends on several factors that we mostly influence.

It should be remembered that a car battery, which at 100 degrees Celsius, has 100 percent of its electrical capacity, loses its efficiency during frosts.

When the temperature outside is -10 degrees Celsius, the battery then has only 80 percent of the electrical capacity.

In extreme situations, in frost around -25 degrees, there is only 60 percent of the electrical capacity.

Also, during cold weather, the engine resistance during firing increases, and the efficiency of the starter decreases. It may turn out that you do not have enough electricity to start the engine.

Therefore, before it gets cold or when you notice that your car has problems in the autumn and winter, you should react quickly and check out the battery.

Suppose its shortcomings do not result from a long period of use (over five years). In that case, you will undoubtedly perform several activities, improving its efficiency during the coldest periods.

Before winter, it is good to check the condition of your car battery. The scope of control activities is limited to several issues. You can do it yourself or go to a specialized workshop. Remember that a discharged battery is not always damaged.

Preparation for the low temperatures

Before winter, you should first clean the contacts. Why is this so important? In winter conditions, with prevailing frost and high humidity, you must ensure that the contact on the clamps is the best.

So you should clean the place where the cables are connected to the clamps from the patina and other impurities. Then, you should secure the terminals with acid-free Vaseline and screw them together.

After such an operation, you will be aware that the joining places are resistant to adverse weather conditions.

The electrolyte level is another factor that affects faster battery discharge in winter. If we have a maintenance-free battery, we will not be able to check the level.

In other cases, the electrolyte deficiency should be topped up with distilled water. Maintenance-free batteries have a so-called magic eye (hydrometer with a floating ball and prism).

It allows us to quickly assess the state of charge of the battery and the electrolyte level. The system is structured to inform us about the need to charge the battery or replace it.

It is also worth checking before winter whether our charging system works appropriately. During the measurement, the battery should have been charged with 14.4V DC.

Car Battery Died In Cold Weather – The Main Causes

There are diverse reasons for a dead car battery in the winter seasons. Now, we are going to explain the leading causes as follows.

The colder it is, the more power the battery loses

You have undoubtedly noticed that during winter that the jump cables, jump starters, or even convenience stores are the most requested to help the car that refuses to start. Is it because the oil and other fluids are thicker because of the cold? Yes, but it is also often the battery that is involved.

Your vehicle’s battery loses 33% of its power as soon as the temperature drops below 0°C and more than 50% below -18°C.

This is generally not a concern because car manufacturers recommend using batteries with a cold start capacity (CCA) capable of starting your car even below -18°C.

The problem is that the battery must be in perfect working order to provide this power, but this is not always the case after a specific time of use and the way it is treated.

Small Failures in Hot Weather Can Cause Big Problems in Cold Weather

If your car has trouble starting in hot weather, chances are you will have more problems when the weather becomes less pleasant.

In such cases, it is vital to determine the causes quickly. Your auto service center will test your battery, connections, starter power, and the general condition of the electrical system.

If corrosion or poor electrical wires make starting more difficult than usual, taking care of it before winter may well save you problems.

My Car Battery Died In Cold Weather – What Should I Do?

The battery sends electricity to the starter, ignition coil, and all electrical circuits. If it works correctly, it enables trouble-free start-up of the drive unit regardless of weather conditions.

My Car Battery Died In Cold Weather Causes

Most cars use lead-acid batteries. In their case, the sulfuric acid solution plays the role of electrolyte.

Positive and negative plates immersed in a solution cause a chemical reaction that results in electricity. Winter is the worst time for drivers. Due to this reason, you should remember a few things that are always worth having in your car.

Do you need to top up the electrolyte?

For the battery to function correctly, it must be inspected regularly. Chemical reactions may cause that after some time, water and electrolyte will start to decrease in it.

In older, serviceable batteries, the level of this fluid must be equalized. To do this, lift the cover and fill the deficiencies so that they cover the battery plates.

It is worth remembering that the electrolyte is a highly corrosive sulfuric acid solution so that any contact can be dangerous to health.

If the manufacturer did not foresee the possibility of removing the cover, it means that the battery has absorbing mats that make it impossible to fill.

How to extend the life of the battery – take care of clean clamps

Clamps are another sensitive element and require special care.

They are exposed to dust settling, electrolyte vapors, and other chemical substances. Therefore, lead poles should be cleaned at least every two to three months.

For this purpose, special brushes or ordinary and inexpensive sandpaper are used. Regular terminal maintenance will ensure the correct current flow and reduce the possibility of a short circuit.

How to extend the life of the battery – drive carefully over vertices

Modern batteries are not resistant to extreme conditions. When driving on a bumpy road, the cell plate may break, resulting in an internal short circuit.

Therefore, pay special attention to fixing the battery. If you use the car in the field or on the racetrack, you should invest in more expensive products dedicated to this activity type.

How to prolong battery life – the right leveling

Incorrect leveling is one of many reasons for faster battery wear. The manufacturer determines the position in which the battery functions correctly.

Parking the vehicle on slopes or wintering the battery at an angle can lead to leakage of electrolyte through leaking plugs or simply disturb its proper functioning.

How to extend the life of the battery – do not entirely discharge it

Modern cars are full of power consumers. Therefore, leaving the car parked for several weeks may result in losses or even damage the battery.

Completely discharging the battery significantly shortens its lifetime. Sulfuric cells, which usually leads to irreversible damage and the need for disposal.

There are known in history cases of frozen electrolyte that has been torn apart by a plastic casing and caused a lot of damage under the hood. If the state of deep discharge did not last too long, you could try to save the battery by charging immediately.

Rectifiers with a microprocessor (2-3 times more expensive) can charge even batteries that many have already written off.

How to extend battery life – avoid short trips

When using a car in the city, especially over short distances, the battery has little chance of working in optimal conditions.

Permanent undercharging will quickly lead to a capacity decrease and a reduction in the starting current. With a gracious aura outside the window and a temperature above 15-20 degrees Celsius, the effects of wear will not be noticeable.

The situation will be worse on cold days. Then, starting the car will begin to be a miracle. The solution to the problem is quite simple. It is worth at least once a week to travel several miles to allow the battery to charge fully.

Besides, it is also good to invest in a microprocessor rectifier that maintains the right level of battery charge. However, this is a method for people who have a garage with a socket near the car.

The battery doesn’t tolerate dirt

Placing the battery in a place exposed under the hood does not help to keep it clean. Therefore, many manufacturers factory-assemble fabric “clothes” with Velcro fasteners.

This reduces sticking to dirt housing. In older cars, this solution does not occur, so the dirt adheres to the battery quite quickly.

Moist dirt conducts electricity, which can cause micro-short circuits and premature battery discharge.

Overloading can be dangerous

A high charging voltage is hazardous for the battery. A damaged voltage regulator is enough to overcharge. In such a situation, the active substance may flow from the cells, resulting in permanent damage.

Despite the warranty that batteries are usually covered by, manufacturers in most cases blame the customer, raising the issue of improper battery use.

And the service will easily detect a fault by checking the electrolyte. Turbid and unclear fluid indicates a massive overload of energy storage. In this case, the driver will be forced to buy a new battery.

Starting your engine regularly can save you trouble

In cold weather, the discharge will occur faster. Many other factors affect the rate of self-discharge in addition to temperature, including the number of charge cycles and the battery age.

If you have an older battery with multiple discharge cycles that were left in direct sunlight during the summer, the self-discharge rate could be much higher.

To save your car battery from running out, you have to start your engine regularly to protect yourself from trouble.

When to replace the battery?

The battery does not “die” overnight. Its agony lasts for many weeks. Extreme neglect and failure to follow general instructions will finish the battery in a year.

Before this happens, changes to the housing will begin, as well as a reduction or complete loss of voltage.

This can be affected not only by improper operation but also by faulty wiring in the car, alternator failure, or tarnished cables.

If you use the car following the art, and yet the energy storage discharges too quickly, it is worth going to a mechanic or electrician to check the basic components of the vehicle.