Car battery in winter – car does not start: tips for a longer life

The defective car battery is according to ADAC cause number 1 for breakdowns in winter. This has several reasons. The modern battery in the car generally lasts only four to six years. Because the load in winter is extreme, many batteries fail, especially in the cold season. But there are a few simple ways to extend the life of your car battery.

Why does the battery weaken in winter?

The colder engine needs longer until it starts and therefore also more energy from the battery during starting. Due to the use of many power consumers at the same time in winter (heating, lighting, etc), the car battery does not start.) the car battery is particularly heavily used. Functions such as GPS or immobilizer remain in standby mode after the vehicle is parked, putting an additional strain on the battery.

Continuous use increases the number of charging cycles and ultimately reduces the life of the battery. It’s especially fatal when the car’s lights are on overnight. The battery discharges completely (deep discharge) and is permanently damaged.

Most problems are caused by batteries in city cars that are only driven short distances. If you make (too) many short trips in winter, the battery can no longer charge properly. Too many power guzzlers and a battery that is no longer sufficiently charged mean total failure sooner rather than later.

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How to protect the car battery?

The older the battery, the more susceptible it is to winter damage. Even the first night of frost can mean the final end for the battery. Most of the time the battery is only empty and not broken. A discharged battery needs 20 to 30 minutes of uninterrupted driving to fully charge again. This is why short trips are so harmful to car batteries in winter. To prolong the life of your battery and avoid nasty surprises in winter, follow these tips:

expert tips for car battery maintenance in winter

  • Switch off unnecessary consumers (z.B. run the rear window heater only until the letter is free)
  • Especially on short distances, switch on as few consumers as possible at the same time (the consumed energy cannot be recharged by the alternator over short distances)
  • leave out power guzzlers like the music system (200 watt) completely (at least on short trips)
  • Avoid short trips and thus many cold starts
  • Ensure sufficient battery fluid (must always be above the six plates) and fill up if necessary. Refill with distilled water
  • Occasional trickle charge if you mostly drive short distances (disconnect battery from car circuit and charge with charger overnight)
  • Regular inspection of the battery (measuring voltage and current, checking the fluid level and, if necessary, changing it). fill it up)
  • keep battery and connections clean and dry to avoid leakage currents. The terminals should be tight and additionally lubricated with vaseline or terminal grease.

Hint: very modern batteries are maintenance free, they cannot be refilled with distilled water. Such batteries can only be recharged. If this does not help they must be replaced.

low voltage in luxury cars

Especially top-class cars, in which a lot of electrical technology such as anti-theft devices, GPS tracking, etc., is used, can be damaged. Installed are susceptible to battery failure in the winter. Batteries that are already weakened, and from which consumers in standby mode suck energy overnight, are then completely empty in the morning and the car no longer starts.

Attention: these measures do not help at all

  • Push on
  • Second car battery
  • Insulate the battery (wrap it up)

If one battery is empty, the second battery connected in the car is of no use either. The weak or empty battery also weakens the other one. Automatic cars cannot be started anyway.

Because modern cars need so much power to start, even a short turn of the alternator will not start the car.

A persistent misconception is that you can protect the battery from the cold by wrapping it up. An insulation layer e.g. styrofoam does not help. The battery does not discharge faster due to the cold, but due to the high load. In addition, installing and removing the battery in many cars is already a feat, let alone installing a battery with a cold weather cover. you can save the money for the battery bag (thermo bag).

How do I know if I need a new battery??

If the battery frequently goes on strike, this is a clear sign that something is wrong with it. You can quickly find out whether a new purchase is necessary by carrying out a small test. Stand with the car in front of a house wall. Turn off the engine and turn on the low beams. If the light dims after a short time and / or starts to flicker, the battery has problems. Even more so if the car does not start again afterwards.

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