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RAC

Car batteries: getting started in the cold

When the temperature drops and your car won't start it's more often than not an issue with your car battery.

Cold, damp weather can play havoc on batteries as vehicle electrical systems have to work a lot harder at this time of year and starter motors require all the current they can get to start the engine on these cold mornings. With more and more vehicle equipment demanding electricity this is more of a problem than ever. We recommend checking and, if needs be, charging your battery at least once a week during the winter months, particularly if it is more than three years old.

Cold temperatures affect the chemical process inside the battery that produces and stores electricity, effectively slowing it down and reducing the battery’s ability to hold the charge. Older, weaker batteries will typically already have reduced performance and cold temperatures will often drastically reduce this further, to the point where the battery will discharge or go flat very quickly.

Remember to:

  • Switch off all loads including lights, wipers,  heater etc before switching off your engine at the end of your journey  This prevents any unnecessary drain on the battery the next time you start up. Check that everything is switched off before turning the ignition on
  • Avoid using heaters, heated screens and heated seats for longer than you have to as they all put high demands on the vehicle’s battery. Some satnavs, in-car DVD players and iPods can also drain the battery if left connected
  • Check that there are no interior lights, including boot lights, left on or any accessories such as phone chargers  left connected
  • Park your vehicle in a garage whenever possible
  • Get your battery tested, particularly if it is over three years old


If your battery does need replacing, the RAC Battery Fitting Service is the answer. Visit our car battery section to find out which battery you need or call us on 0800 096 2968. We can deliver and fit these for you – and fitting is free for members.

And, sometimes it can be difficult just getting into your car. These two tips could save you some much-needed time:

  • Use a little silicone-based furniture polish on the rubber door seals – it helps prevent doors getting stuck when it freezes. It’s best to apply with a cloth so you don’t spray polish on to the vehicle’s paintwork
  • If locks are frozen, try warming your key. You could also inject the lock with the appropriate anti-freeze or spray it with WD40

6 Fitting is Free for RAC members, for non members garage fitting is £9.99 and patrol fitting £30.

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