Merrychristmashappynewyearhowhaveyoubeen?! + breakdown cover

Greetings! Hope you have all been totally glorious over the holidays and are slowly re-settling into the daily grind.

I sent my laptop off for repairs immediately after my holidays began, and it only just returned (huzzah!). However, before I had even sung my first descant line of We Wish You a Merry Christmas I was confronted with a car that would not start, with a desperate need to go to the supermarket.

The car was first coughing, before being reduced to a ticking sound; the wipers were frozen in place, but the headlights would still turn on. (We have experienced some badass winteriness over Christmas.) Most of this pointed towards the battery being flat-ish. After contemplating, the jump-leads were retrieved, and soon enough the car was functioning again.

I put this down to the cold weather having drained the battery, but an unnamned family member did not understand why. Indeed, it is an interesting question; I have otherwise been told to keep my ordinary batteries (your classic alkaline or nickel-cadmium) ones in the fridge for them to keep longer. So does a car battery behave differently?

Winter is quite a pain-in-the-posterior for car batteries: the cold temperatures make the chemicals inside the battery interact slower, and the oil in the engine adopt a far more viscous character. This makes the battery difficult to charge up, and the engine hard to turn over. The oil-problem in turn requires more current from the battery, which it finds tricky to conjure. Once you have got the car started, you could do with checking the connections under the bonnet, as as the chill can loosen things up.

I did ring around friends who are experienced car-lovers, and picked up a few tips to share:

  • Only ever use cold water to aid de-icing. Hot water will cause a very large temperature gradient, and may cause cracking of windows!
  • If you have woken up to a frozen car, and tested it for battery charge (headlights), try not to strain the battery any further, as a partially discharged battery is much easier to rescue than a completely discharged one. (This is when it can actually freeze, and cause internal damage.)
  • Once the car is up and running again, e.g. post-jump-lead fun, take it for a nice, but careful, 30 minute drive. There is a solenoid responsible for charging up the battery inside the car, that will do just that during the drive.

I am no expert, but who likes a miserable car?

Will try to be a better blogger in the New Year – my resolution to you. Safe driving!

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