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We are now entering the grip of winter and the arrival of cold, damp weather can create absolute chaos when it comes to your vehicles battery and electrical system. On cold mornings car batteries are a lot like people – they like to be kept warm and to be fed and don’t always want to get started. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting in a car that won’t start, trying again and again to get it going. Your battery has to work a lot harder in winter and your starter motor will require the maximum current in order to get the engine going.
Warning signs that you might be at risk of suffering a battery related breakdown include:
- A grinding or clicking sound as you turn the ignition on
- Your engine turns over slowly when you attempt to start it
- Your headlights dim when the engine is idle but brighten when you give the engine some revs
Follow the tips below to make sure you can get your car started this winter.
You should check the terminals on your battery to ensure that the cable connections are clean and tight, this will enable proper current flow. Any corrosion of the terminals will add electrical resistance increasing the chances that your car won’t start. You should clean the terminals periodically using a wire brush and water. When doing this make sure you wear gloves and eye protection as the white lead sulphate power is toxic.
Keep Your Battery Clean and Charged
A dirty battery can lead to power discharge and corrosion. Avoid getting oil or grease on the battery. An under charged or under used battery will lose its charge and go flat over time. You should also check the water level of your battery every month and top it up with distilled water if needed.
Reduce the Load
When starting your car in freezing conditions you should switch off everything electrical, such as the radio and dip the clutch as you turn the ignition on. This will reduce the work load of the battery and increase the chances of the engine starting.
If you can park your car in a garage over night you should do as this will help keep the battery warm. If you do not have access to a garage you should park so that the bonnet is facing away from the wind.
Booster Packs and Jump Cables
You could consider investing in a battery booster pack which will enable you to give your battery a quick charge if it is failing to start the engine. Jump cables are also useful if you have access to another car that will start.
If your battery is over 5 years old and it begins to show signs of struggling to start you should get it replaced as soon as possible. Don’t wait around and hope that this is a temporary blip that will pass – once batteries start to experience problems it generally only ends one way – with a motorist stranded on the roadside.