Temperatures are dropping. So is your car battery's power.

January 20, 2021 | Casey Johnson

As the temperature drops, so does your car battery’s power. Before you break out the hot chocolate and curl up by the fire, make sure your battery is ready for winter. Otherwise, Jack Frost will quite literally be nipping at your nose while you’re stranded with a car that won’t start.

Driver using jumper cables to start dead battery in middle of winter.
Starting a vehicle in cold weather puts a lot of strain on your car battery. It may need up to twice the amount of current than normal to start the engine when temperatures take a dive. CAA’s Automotive Research Center reports that at 0°C, a car’s battery loses about 35 percent of its strength. When temperatures plummet to -18° C, it loses about 60 percent of its power. If your battery is teetering on its last leg, a cold snap could be the crowning blow that leaves you stuck with a car that won’t start.

Signs Your Battery May Be Bad:

Take preventative maintenance now to avoid an unwelcome surprise. If your battery shows the following signs, it may be time to recycle and replace it during your holiday shopping:


1. The battery is more than three years old.

The average lifespan of an automotive battery is three to five years. With the increase of electronics in vehicles, this number may skew closer to three years.

2. Lights look different.

If your headlights are dim and appear yellow, instead of white, your battery’s power may be declining. You might also notice that interior dome lights appear dim, or flicker, and warning lights may display on the dashboard.

3. The car horn sounds strange.

When your car horn sounds less emphatic than usual, your car battery could be on the fritz.

4. Electronic accessories fail.

Signs your car battery is failing include your radio, heated seats, or cell phone charger not working as usual.


5. It doesn’t look or smell right.

Sometimes, a simple visual inspection or smell test is all it takes to know your battery is in trouble. If you notice a sulfur or rotten egg smell; or your battery is swollen, cracked, or corroded, it may be time for
a replacement.


Avoid a crowded auto repair shop! Schedule a convenient car battery test with your CAA Membership. A Battery Service Technician comes to you – at work, at home, almost anywhere – to test your battery. If the battery needs to be replaced, it can most likely be completed onsite. Get a quote online, request assistance through the CAA Mobile App, or call 1-800-263-3616.

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