battery_trouble_winterCold temperatures can make your vehicle act like a lot of things could be wrong.  Sometimes the battery is the last thing checked, but the first on the problem list.

During winter, due to freezing and below freezing temperatures, it slows the chemical reaction inside of the battery, wreaking havoc. Though batteries can function under a plethora of conditions, the cold weather tends to degrade the quality of your battery and may even render some batteries useless.

Your vehicle’s battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing, and over 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.

Avoid Battery Problems
At Sierra Care Care and MST Tire Center we offer a STARTING & CHARGING SYSTEM CHECK that can provide valuable insight for your entire starting system.

The starting and charging system is responsible for getting an engine to run and for keeping different components charged. Using energy from the battery, the starter uses a gear to interact with the engine. Without a starter, an engine would be inoperable. The starting system involves a number of parts, including:

  • Ignition Switch
  • Starter
  • Flywheel

The charging system play’s an equally important role, which includes:

  • Battery
  • Alternator
  • Voltage Regulator

The battery is needed to send electricity to the starter. The alternator powers all the electrical components by generating electrical currents, and the voltage regulator ensures that the output of the alternator does not over- or under-charge the components dependent on the electrical current. Together, the starting and charging systems interact with one another to keep a vehicle operating for its driver.

Starting & Charging System Check offered at Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Center
The various components that make up your starting and charging system are not impervious to failure from constant use and wear. Warning signs for a starting and charging system problem include:

  • Dashboard Warning Lights
  • Dim Headlights
  • Clicking or Growling Noises
  • Trouble Starting Engine
  • Inconsistent Idle

During a starting and charging system service, our staff will review the voltage level of your battery, test your alternator, and look over your starter. An inefficient starting and charging system can lead to engine failure, which makes routine maintenance extremely important. Some components, like the battery, may give little warning before they fail. Our service staff combines the proper tools with extensive automotive knowledge to test and repair the components of your vehicle’s starting and charging system.

So, give Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Centers a call at 1-775-525-2420 to schedule your Starting & Charging System Check.

COMMON FACTORS OF BATTERY FAILURE

Battery Age
If the battery is more than five years old and there’s any sign of struggle to start the car, get it replaced. A battery has an average lifespan of four years under “normal” conditions. “Normal” in this case means the battery goes through full charge cycles, isn’t subjected to extreme temperatures, is attached to a reliable and consistent charging system and isn’t providing power for a ton of accessories. See, normal just isn’t normal. In the real world, temperature extremes, vibration, short trips down the street and an ever-increasing array of MP3 players, GPS receivers and other devices take a toll on the battery. Getting your battery replaced when you know it is the problem is better than as a roadside emergency.

Corrosion on Battery Terminals
Corrosion can prevent a car from starting just as much as a worn-out battery. Corrosion is caused by a faulty connection that allows battery acid to escape and corrode surrounding areas. Regularly inspect the battery to keep the connections clean. Carefully clean away any corrosive residue that has formed using a toothbrush and baking soda and also make sure the battery is correctly seated. Excessive vibration/moving can cause a weaker connection as well.

Battery Load
Switch off everything electrical and dip the clutch to reduce the load on the battery when you start a cold car. Do not start the car with the heater and the radio on. They can use up the power coming from the car’s alternator and prevent the battery from charging. Do not leave the heat and the radio on while the car is idling. Otherwise the car will not be putting out enough power for the alternator to charge the battery and power the electrical systems. When you park for the evening check to make sure all electrical items have been switched off – even an interior light, boot light, or radio left on overnight can kill a battery when it’s cold.

If you do not own a load tester, our staff would be happy to test the load of your battery and provide recommendations depending on the result of the test.

Install Battery Blanket or Trickle Charger to Prolong Battery Life
If you mostly do short journeys or leave the car standing for days at a time, invest in a modern battery conditioner/intelligent charger. These can be left connected to the battery indefinitely and can prolong its life without overcharging it.

A battery blanket is used to wrap around the battery and fit inside of the battery cover. A cord with a plug runs from the blanket to a wall outlet. The blanket can produce enough heat to keep the battery fluid from freezing. A trickle charger can also be mounted on the battery. It will deliver enough power to the battery while the vehicle is off to keep it from freezing.

If your vehicle will be stored in a garage for the winter, disconnect the battery. Certain devices, such as clocks and alarm systems, continue to drain battery power when the vehicle is off. If your car will not be driven enough to recharge the battery, keep it disconnected when the automobile is being stored.

Winterization Checklist
To maximize protection against cold-weather conditions, now’s the time to make sure you not only winterize your battery, but your vehicle too. Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Centers recommend that you have one of our ASE Certified technician’s inspect the following items on your vehicle for a safe winter:

  • Replace worn windshield wipers every 12 months.
  • Check all fluids.
  • Make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
  • Inspect all bulbs and lights for proper operation.
  • Check condition of tires, including the spare.
  • Change oil every 3,000 miles.
  • Examine exhaust system for leaks.
  • Flush and refill cooling system with a 50/50 mixture.
  • Check drive belts, clamps and hoses.
  • Starting & charging system check.

If you live in an extremely cold region of the country, we recommend you carry emergency gear in your vehicle at all times, such as:

  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Tire Chains
  • Battery Booster Pack
  • Cell Phone
  • Blankets
  • Flares
  • Flashlight
  • High-Energy, Non-Perishable Snacks
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