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Why does my car crank slower in the winter?

Posted by tom zoebelein on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 @ 10:06 AM

Well, Groundhog Day has come and gone, and good old Punxsutawney Phil did not see a shadow, so Spring should be on its way.  Right?  I guess we’ll see. 

In the meantime, we still have a bit of winter left to deal with, so you might have some cold weather questions about your car.  For instance, why is your car harder to start when it’s cold out?

Oil quality
One reason has to do with your oil.  When the weather turns cold, your oil becomes thicker as the molecules in it have slowed down.  When your oil is thicker, it causes your car to have more mechanical resistance.

Extreme temperatures

snow on car
Extreme temperatures are hard on a car battery.  Heat in the summer will damage the internal cells of a battery, which will make it that much more difficult for the battery to function well in the winter.   Combine the heat damage with thick oil and your car’s battery will be working extra hard to turn over a cold engine. 

Because we experience both hot and cold temperatures in Bel Air, Maryland, our car batteries often last only five or six years.  To help you increase the life of your car’s battery, follow these tips:

  • Avoid short trips as much as possible.  When you take lots of brief trips in the car, your vehicle doesn’t have a chance to put a charge back in the battery.  Longer trips are much better for keeping your battery charged.

  • Take the proper measures if you store your car.  If you plan not to use your car for a long period of time, disconnect your battery and put a trickle charger on it.  You can find one of these at any automotive store.  This is great for preserving your battery when not in use for long periods of time.  In general, park in the shade in the summer as often as you can and in a garage during the winter.

car in garage

  • Prevent unnecessary battery drainage.  Nowadays, so many of us have cell phones, iPods, GPS devices, and other electronics that we plug into chargers in our car.  To prevent unnecessary drainage of your car’s battery, unplug these devices whenever your turn off your car.  Otherwise, they will continue to pull power from your battery to charge your electronics.  On a similar note, be careful not to leave your dome light on when you exit the car and don’t leave your car doors open for extended periods of time.

car battery charger

  • Keep your battery terminals clean.  You’ll want to keep dirt and debris out of your terminals, because they can prevent the alternator from delivering a charge to the battery easily.

If you follow these steps you should be able to squeeze quite a bit more time out of your car’s battery.   And if you ever need an auto repair shop that you can trust, call us at Ward Automotive.  We service every town in Harford County, including Aberdeen, Bel Air, Burns Corner, Darlington, Edgewood, Fallston, Havre de Grace, Hickory Hills, Jarrettsville, Joppatowne, Perryman, Pleasant Hills, Pylesville, and Riverside.  We are not only your Harford County auto repair shop and body shop, but we’re also your neighbor!  If you are looking for a neighborhood body shop that you can trust, rest assured that you have come to the right place at Ward Automotive.  Bel Air Autobody and Ward Automotive have been servicing the residents of Harford County, Maryland for over 20 years.


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