For experienced drivers, we’ve all been there.
It’s the first chilly day of the new season. You pack up your lunch, put on your jacket, and get in the car. Shivering slightly, you put the key in the ignition, and…
…slowly, it cranks to life.
Phew! Once your heart rate returns to normal, you drive to work and forget about it. In fact, you forget about it for several weeks. Until one day, you turn the key, and nothing happens at all.
Learn how to prevent this all too common scenario from happening to you with some cold weather prep tips from Beck’s Auto Center, an auto repair shop in Lafayette, IN!
Here’s the Rub
Let’s first take a look at why your battery needs some TLC come cold weather.
We all know what happens to water when it’s exposed to cold weather, right? Of course, it freezes. It becomes cold and hard, making it undrinkable.
In the same way, when your car is exposed to cold weather, particularly if it isn’t kept in a garage, it will freeze too. This makes it significantly more difficult to get started and run well. Just as people can sometimes wake up groggy and need some time with a comfy chair and some coffee, your car needs time to warm up to operate at its best.
This is why it’s important to get your car’s electrical system in the best condition before winter hits, so you don’t end up having to take the bus unexpectedly.
Test Your Battery!
So let’s get right into it. The most obvious step in having a well-working battery is simply getting it tested. You may not want to bother with buying a voltmeter and learning to use it just for this. Any auto repair shop like Beck’s or even auto parts stores will be happy to check your battery for you either for free or as a part of a broader inspection service.
How Long Does a Car Battery Last?
The average lifespan of a car battery is 3 to 5 years. And this depends on many factors, like if it’s been completely discharged before, if you’re doing a lot of driving, or if it’s otherwise not properly maintained. Once your battery is 3 years old, it is recommended that you have it tested every year to make sure you don’t end up stranded anywhere.
If you find you need to replace your car battery, or you’d like us to test it for you, just let us know!
Just Get a New One!
Sometimes, you don’t even need to test your car battery to realize it’s on its last legs. If you’re experiencing the scenario above, it’s pretty clear you’re in need of a new battery. But other signs to watch for include dim headlights—especially during idle—and let’s not forget the most obvious sign: your battery warning light on the dash. However, the warning light could also be an alternator issue, so your best bet is to get it tested to be sure.
Should I Go Ahead and Slap a Battery in There?
This depends. You want to be careful to make sure you get the right kind, and make sure you have the tools and expertise to change it out. It’s not as easy as changing the batteries in your TV remote. Some car batteries are a cinch to change. But others require a skilled mechanic to swap out.
What Kind of Car Battery Should I Get?
Once again, this isn’t as simple as pulling off the cover on your TV remote to see if you need AAs or AAAs. There are many different types of car batteries depending on the brand, the size and type of engine, the cold-cranking amps or amp-hour (Ah) rating.
Make sure you get the right one or you may end up with a battery that doesn’t last as long or has trouble operating in cold weather.
The Modern Car Battery
Finding the right battery is important for a variety of reasons, and one of those reasons is…
…they don’t make cars like they used to.
And that’s a great thing! Cars are so much more complex than they used to be, and this results in better safety, better fuel economy, as well as more comfort and features. But with all these fancy gadgets comes the need to power all that computer intelligence.
The modern car battery doesn’t just start the engine, there are tons of computers monitoring different things in your vehicle (some have as many as 80!), and a failing battery could mean improper functioning of these computers. In fact, having your battery disconnected temporarily can even cause systems to malfunction.
This means you’ll want a trained professional looking over your battery to prevent potential electrical issues. And remember, your car needs to be driven regularly to avoid being prematurely drained. Some cars can deplete their charge in as little as 3 weeks.
Not only have the responsibilities of batteries changed, newer cars are incorporating a new type of battery to deal with the rigorous requirements of new technologies. These are called Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, and they last longer than conventional flooded batteries, charge 5 times faster, and—you guessed it—they hold up better in cold weather.
Just as the modern battery has the ability to regulate certain vehicle functions, the modern alternator works hard to keep things safe and efficient as well.
The smart alternator controls the current from the alternator based on operating conditions. This ensures maximum fuel efficiency while minimizing wear and tear on the various components in your engine.
Get a Winter Inspection at Beck’s Auto Center in Lafayette, Indiana
Does your vehicle seem to be laboring more than usual to get going in the morning? Get in touch with Beck’s Auto Center at (765) 447-9459 to gain some peace of mind for driving during the upcoming winter.