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Car battery failure is one of the most common causes of an engine refusing to start and Rob Marshall advises that extra checks are necessary to reduce the chance of an annoying wintry inconvenience.
It can be illogical for an otherwise reliable vehicle to fail to start at the first sign of a cold snap. Although requesting a garage to supply and fit a car battery for you is the most convenient option, many people prefer to buy the part from either an online or high-street retailer. The first thing to check is whether or not the battery will fit physically into your car and you should measure the length, width and the height in millimetres.
Although battery lifespan depends on how it is used, most types last for between three and five years.
Even if you are not adept at DIY, many garages offer a free test, which will identify whether or not the car battery is able to cope with the rigours of winter use.
Some car batteries are not sealed, which means the caps can be take off and the level of electrolyte can be maintained, by adding distilled water, until the level is just above the internal plates.
Even if DIY is your forte, most modern car batteries are sealed, meaning very little can be done to them, apart from ensuring that the terminals are clean. Unfortunately, car batteries can freeze and the rate at which they do so increases depending on how discharged they are.
If a battery is left discharged for a long period, a chemical reaction occurs internally that can cause permanent damage, a process known as sulphation.
On more recent models, even disconnecting the car battery can cause problems with the electrical system. Batteries have a finite life and, although there are retail products available to rejuvenate a tired item, at best, they only tend to delay the inevitable new purchase. About GEM Motoring AssistGEM Motoring Assist are a breakdown cover company and road safety charity that has been serving motorists for over 80 years. GEM Motoring Assist's free mobile app has been developed to give our members extra peace of mind. GEM Motoring Assist is a trading name of The Guild of Experienced Motorists which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). French research lab CEA Leti is using ultrasonic sensing to detect imminent battery failure in electric vehicles, and has proposed a way to extend running life. To detect sparking, signals between 20kHz and 300kHz from a custom MEMS sensor (see photos) are analysed to reject non-arc sources, then further analysis estimates the physical location of the problem within the battery pack.
As a way to increase the robustness of electric vehicle battery packs when faults are detected, Leti is splitting its 400V vehicle battery into eight separate 50V modules. Each module has a series disconnect relay, plus a relay that can short the module’s output terminals.
This removal and bypass process can be initiated during: charge, driving, maintenance or a crash. Within each modules are the two power switches and six series-connected battery sub-modules – allowing the module to be serviced. Individual cell balancing within each sub-module and module maximises module storage capacity during charge and discharge. Then at the module level, the two power switches can be used to implement module-level charge balancing – for example switching out the weakest module when it is depleted, allowing the vehicle to continue on seven others. In a modelled example with eight ill-matched modules, a battery with power switches lasted 34% longer than a permanently connected battery – which is effectively empty once the weakest module is empty. The strategy used in this case was to save the weakest module until last – it was only switched into the battery once the second weakest module had depleted to its charge level. Electronics Weekly is the market leading and longest-established electronics magazine, read in print and online by key decision makers throughout the industry for more than 50 years. Years ago, vehicles were equipped with carburetors and required a longer cranking time to start.

It’s unusual for a battery to malfunction because of a defect, driving habits are the usual cause.
When the battery does not have have an opportunity to charge fully, acid stratification occurs. Batteries can cause all kinds of crazy problems; the vehicle’s electrical system has to be 100%.
Batteries can be difficult to diagnose, if your battery is more than three years old, my suggestion is to replace it.
It’s interesting to read about the history and how far the automotive industry has evolved since it started. Don’t forget to recycle your old batteries. Lube Stop began a free car, truck, and boat recycling initiative for local communities in 2011 as part of its Sustainability Program.
The truth is that lower temperatures place its mechanical components under extra stress but a few simple checks will reduce the chance of your car battery letting you down. A Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) figure is given, indicating how capable the battery is at starting a cold engine.
As batteries cost more than the labour involved to fit them, paying a little extra for an extended guarantee, some of which can be up to five years long, can be a prudent move, especially if you cover a low annual mileage.
Green-coloured corrosion, which can affect the electrical connections between the battery and the vehicle’s terminals, can be dissolved by boiling water.
If your engine does not start first time, operate the starter in ten second bursts and then turn the ignition off for 30 seconds, before trying again.
Heated rear windscreens tend to work in conjunction with heated mirrors and consume a lot of electrical energy. If a battery has a very low rate of charge, the electrolyte’s PH value increases closer to that of water and becomes more vulnerable to freezing. This might be caused if your car is out of use for a long time, which is not helped by some electrical accessories, such as a clock or alarm system that drain the battery while it is parked. Therefore, you should read the instruction manual, or consult a technician, to see if there is a procedure, which will allow the vehicle’s computers to ‘power down’. This has been developed for you, the member, to ensure that if you break down you can tell us exactly where you are. Electronics Weekly is at the heart of the electronics industry and is reaching an audience of more than 120,000 people each month.
That’s why the day before your vehicle may have started fine, with no warning of a problem. Using a lot of vehicle accessories and driving short distances prevents the battery from fully charging.
If you are seeing excessive corrosion and have had problems don’t fool around with an old battery. Gene began working with cars when he was 13 at his father’s (Gene Sr.) ESSO service center where he cleaned equipment and tools, scrubbed out the repair bays, and pumped gas. The annunciator light appears on the instrument panel, and in most cases, will warn you when the battery is in need of replacement. Lube Stop offers complementary battery testing for all customers in addition to its battery replacement service. Individuals may drop off car, truck, and boat batteries during store hours at any Lube Stop location.
Then, confirm that the position, size and shape of the terminals are the same as your replacement. If your motoring consists mainly of short journeys, it may be advantageous to buy a battery with a higher CCA than that which was fitted originally.
Coating the terminals with Petroleum Jelly (such as Vaseline) will help to discourage corrosion from building in the future.

Lights also consume a lot of power but never turn anything off, if it will prejudice road safety. Like water, if the electrolyte freezes, it expands, buckling the internal lead plates and rendering the battery useless. In this case it would be better to disconnect and remove the battery from the car and charge it slowly, using any one of the many car battery chargers on the market, which will replenish the car battery slowly. Then an extreme change in the weather (hot or cold) causes the weak battery to die, seemingly without a warning.
Extended idling with heavy accessory use or driving a short distance only once a week can also reduce battery performance. It is similar to the way sugar granules collect on the bottom of a cup of coffee before it is stirred.
If you don’t, you may find yourself stranded without a working vehicle.  Checking your battery regularly to ensure it is in working order can prevent potentially hazardous and inconvenient situations.
Some cars even have an ammeter, which displays the exact condition of your battery the same way a fuel gauge would display how much fuel you have remaining.
Battery recycling helps reduce the amount of resources used to make new batteries and prevents battery chemicals from leaking into the environment. Additionally, the Ampere-hour (Ah) rating ascertains the number of amps that the battery can provide over a 20 hours period. If you only tend to cover short journeys, it is prudent to take your car for a longer run, of at least 20 miles, which will help recharge the battery to an acceptable level. However, be aware that batteries give off highly explosive gases, when being recharged, and necessary safety precautions should be taken. When fuel-injected engines became the norm this was not as evident due to the fact that the vehicle starts up quicker. Batteries tend to stratify if kept at low charge (below 80%) and don’t get the opportunity to receive a full charge. If you clean your battery terminals and cables and the corrosion returns, replace the battery. Many vehicles will chime when you exit your vehicle to alert you that your lights are still turned on. That test will show you how your car battery is faring, and if it is in need of replacement. Even a modern car will deliver more power to the battery above idling speeds but never be tempted to leave your car unattended, on a driveway, with the engine running. For example, short distance driving while running windshield wipers and electric heaters contributes to acid stratification. With his father and brother, the three opened Avalon Automotive, an 8-bay repair center, where he was a partner for more than 10 years. To keep your battery in better condition longer, try to limit the number of accessories you use when driving short distances or leaving on accessories that automatically power up when you start your vehicle.
In addition, Acid buildup and corrosion can also impact your car battery’s functionality and connection strength with your vehicle. To this end, Lube Stop also offers a convenient battery cleaning service to lengthen the life of your battery and prevent further decay. Nothing can halt a project on its heels quicker than a broken bolt or fastener, stripped nut or rounded-off capscrew.

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