Cold weather wreaks havoc on car batteries

January 23, 2013 3:40:23 PM PST
Car batteries are among the first casualties of a deep freeze.

Action News caught up with Carl Flinn, Lead Driver for AAA Mid-Atlantic, mid-morning.

"This is probably about my seventh battery call and I started at 8:00 a.m.," Flinn said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says system-wide it received 2,629 battery calls yesterday, up 93% from a much milder January 22, 2012.

In some cases, a quick jumpstart is all that's needed.

But a 2004 Saab had its original battery and no amount of help could get it going,

The only cure is a $148 replacement.

AAA says a combination of things make for cold start problems.

Cold engine oil thickens making it harder for the engine to turn.

"And everything is cold and a lot of the tolerances are tighter, so it's definitely harder for the starter to turn the engine over," John Mora, AAA Vehicle Maintenance Manager, said.

The cold engine needs peak power to turn, but cold robs the battery of output putting it in a weaken state.

"Because of the temperature, it makes it extremely hard to start the engine," Mora said.

There is little a consumer can do to improve the lifespan of a modern battery.

So how do you avoid calling on Carl Flinn?

Have your aging battery tested.