Battery Performance: as Temperature Drops, Battery Performance Slides Page 2

December 12, 2009

2008 Toyota Prius 5dr HB Base (Natl) Side Exterior View

At this point, the battery is very marginal at starting your car. You may get a good crank or two out of it and, if your alternator is in good shape, it may start to put enough power into the system so that the car starts up. Or, you may just find your car sitting there cranking and weakening and cranking and weakening to the point that all you heard is a very sickening click.

The only thing you can do here is call road service and wait for the truck to arrive with a charger. And, once your car has been started, if you drive far enough, you may be able to keep the charge in the battery so that you can get through another winter with what may be a marginal battery. You can be sure that next winter, though, youll be changing batteries.

Were only talking about one battery here. Now, imagine the battery pack used in a Prius or a Honda Civic Hybrid that may be several years old. Unfortunately, these batteries arent Krypton and they dont have a red S, although they may have fancy designations such as Lithium/ion and Nickel/Metal Hydride (NiMH), and they still react to the real-world realities of physics and temperature. This is the reason that a battery pack that may provide 40-mpg (equivalent) performance at, say, 55 degrees, will only offer 34 or 35-mpg (equivalent) performance at 20 degrees.

And, as the batteries age, youll find the performance curve drops off even more sharply.

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