What Causes My Car Battery to Die?

Almost everyone has a story about how their car battery died in the cold months of winter. While it is true that winter is the time of year when batteries seem to fail most, the real culprit is temperature extremes, which stress the operation of the battery. Here's why.

Lead-acid batteries, the type most commonly installed in passenger vehicles, are designed to work best at temperatures ranging from about 32 degrees Fahrenheit to about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Batteries start losing their cranking power when temperatures drop below or go above that range. As a battery ages, it is affected more by temperature extremes.

Batteries die in winter due to decreased capacity along with increased draw from the starter and the vehicle's accessories. Cold-cranking amps tend to decrease in low temperatures. Batteries die in summer primarily from high temperatures and overcharging, which tends to shorten its life.

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