Winter Driving Advice – Setting Off in the Cold

There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than leaving your house on a cold morning to find your car won’t start. More often than not, this is caused by a problem with the battery, so what are you meant to do?

Cars already have to work much harder to start at this time of year, as wet and damp weather causes carnage with batteries and electrical systems. Because of this, when starting on a cold day, starter motors require every bit of electricity available, to achieve a successful start. With the continuing advancement in vehicle engineering systems, there are a lot of electrical components all vying for the small current available which makes it increasingly difficult for modern car to start on a cold morning – especially if the car isn’t used regularly, only ever goes on short journeys or if the battery is getting old.

During the winter months it’s advisable to check and, if necessary, charge your battery at least once a week – this is particularly important if it’s over three years old. The cold weather affects a battery’s ability to hold charge, so even a relatively new, healthy battery could be affected.

To preserve the charge of your car’s battery over winter, bear these things in mind:

  • Before switching off your ignition at the end of a journey, check that you’ve turned off everything that’s not necessary to start your engine, but uses electricity. This includes lights, heaters, the radio etc. and by doing this you’re making sure that when you come to start your car the next morning, the starter motor is receiving the maximum power available to it.
  • Obviously during the winter you’ll be taking advantage of the car’s heating system, along with extras like a heated windscreen and heated seats, it just makes sense. However, having a windscreen heater blasting when all of the ice has melted or having your heated seats turned on when they’ve got so warm you feel like you’ve wet yourself, makes no sense at all, so turn them off to prevent using the battery unnecessarily. The same applies to in-car chargers and DVD players that are plugged in but not in use; they all waste your vehicle’s power, putting high demands on an already struggling battery.
  • If possible, park your car in a garage. Although it’s still cold, it’s slightly warmer than the open air and you won’t have to use heated windscreen features to melt the ice in a morning.
  • Finally, make sure you have breakdown cover just in case you do suffer any unexpected battery problems.
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