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Tip of the Month

Batteries and Cold Weather

Winter is hard on batteries, not only because of the cold but because we often use more accessories on short drives such as lights, heaters, defrosters, wipers and those sometimes equipped and comfortable seat heaters. If you do a lot of short trip driving the charging system does not always get time to charge the battery back up after starting.

If the car sits for days at a time this will be even harder on the battery as memory devices such as computers and alarms continually draw tiny amounts of electricity bringing the battery down.

Alternator output is lower at lower speed driving such as in town, than when you are out on the highway and with all of these accessories on, charging output may just be keeping the accessories powered up at lower speeds and not getting the battery battery recharged. Each day the battery may become another 1 or 2% discharged leading to a problem within a few of weeks. Running batteries low on charge causes shortened battery life and can cause older batteries to fail.

One way to prevent this is to take the car out once a week for a longer drive, or even use a trickle charger.


If your battery does get discharged due to short trip driving or leaving the lights on it's important to know that it can take 4 - 6 hours to properly charge a good, fully discharged battery. Bad batteries can recharge very quickly has they have very little capacity for storage left.

It is best not to expect the alternator to recharge a completely discharged battery. To begin with, unless you're going on a long trip you won't fully charge the battery, leading to possibly more problems or early battery failure. Also alternators are not designed to recharge a fully discharged battery in good condition. Doing so can overheat the electronic components and shorten its life or cause it to fail.

Battery facts

CCA Cranking Amps or Cold Cranking Amps is a measurement of how much raw amperage a battery can deliver in 30 seconds, such as when you are starting the car.

Reserve Capacity (RC) Reserve capacity is another rating you often won't see listed on a battery but very important if your car sits a lot or you often use accessories such as the radio with the engine off. It is a rating of how long the battery can provide a low amount of amperage over a longer period of time.

Reserve Capacity requires higher quality cell materials which means those cheaper batteries have less. Many brands of batteries will have a high CCA but a small RC, which can leave you stranded if you leave your door open for a while, let the car sit for several days at a time or do a lot of short trip driving. These are usually a cheaper battery.

Never buy a battery with a lower capacity rating than is recommended by the manufacturer, not only will it fail early, some very cold morning it may leave you stranded.


Visit Wayne's Garage for your car repair and service in the Eugene and Springfield area. We are an AAA Approved Automobile Repair Facility and have been awarded the Blue Seal of Excellence by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Warning Lights


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Automotive Recalls

We often hear about auto recalls when they become big news, but recalls happen quite often and are not always publicized. Many cars running around out on the road have recalls that have never been addressed.

For those who bought used vehicles or have moved since a vehicle purchase, they may not get a notice.

How do you find out if there is a recall on your car? Go to Carfax and enter your make and VIN#. If your car is not listed you can check with a dealer or go to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA.

Millions of drivers could be endangered by operating vehicles that have been recalled but have not been repaired, according to an investigation conducted by Edmunds. They found there were at least 2.7 million vehicles listed for sale last year that still were subject to unfulfilled recalls. There are no laws that require a car's owner to notify a potential buyer that the car being sold is the subject of a recall. More about recalls and 14 of the largest.starbar.gif

Ignoring that Check Engine Light
Check Engine Light When the first GM cars with onboard computers and diagnostic capabilities came out in the early 80's, they could recognize a limited amount of problems and could store less than 20 trouble codes. It's not unusual for an average car today to recognize and set 125 codes or more just for the engine and transmission.

Then there is Anti-lock Brakes, Traction Control, Air Bag, suspension and other systems that have their own codes.

Some of these engine and transmission codes are for problems that usually won't cause problems we notice while driving. We often hear, "that light has been on for years, I don't worry about it anymore" or "Since this is a minor problem, can I continue driving it and not fix it right now?"
Unfortunately you only have one check engine light. If you ignore the light because of a problem that doesn't seem to affect the way the car drives, something else might crop up that will cause big problems and you may not know until it's too late because the light is already on.

Some problems that the light can come on to warn you about can cause poor mileage or be a warning that you may be left by the side of the road soon. Other warnings can be about things that can cause catalytic converter, transmission or engine failure.


See more Automotive Service and Repair Tips at Wayne's Garage

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Many of today's cars have more than 100 million lines of software code running everything from navigation systems to braking systems.


Wayne's Garage - serving Eugene and Springfield, Oregon car and light truck needs.

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333 Q Street
Springfield, Oregon