Car batteries take a beating, especially during the winter. They get you going, day in and day out, and nobody gives them a second thought until thereís a problem; however, there are some distinct signs of battery distress if you know what to look for. Here are some pointers to help prevent you from breaking down this winter.
Slow starts: Starting an engine when itís sub-zero outside takes a lot of energy. To achieve reliable cold starts in freezing weather, your battery must supply a lot of electrical current. When you notice yourself crossing your fingers as your lights dim and your engineís rhythm gets slower and slower, itís time to be concerned.
One cause of this may be the battery itself. Before you condemn it, though, your service department can perform some checks. Electricity flows best through clean, tight connections, and thatís the first thing your mechanic will check. Over time, corrosion can build up on cables where the battery connects to the electrical system. Instead of conducting the juice, this corrosion acts as an insulator, meaning power canít flow. When power canít flow, you canít go. Starts will be slow and nerve-wracking, and the battery itself may not charge back up.
It may not be the battery: A low battery might not be the cause of your problems, but a symptom. If the charging system canít top up the battery , youíll be stuck. Alternator problems sometimes show up as noticeable flickers from the lights. If your car has a voltmeter, you may notice the needle hanging lower than usual. Itís easy for a service professional to check that your charging system is putting out the proper voltage. And if itís not, theyíll know what to do to get it back to its old energetic self.
Even if you donít suspect any problems with your battery, itís worth checking the next time your car is in for service. Our expert technicians will let you know if you need a new battery, or just a repair to your current one. Just a few minutes during a routine oil change can save you several hours of aggravation caused by a lackluster battery.
This article is presented by Ingram Park Auto Center in San Antonio, Texas.