ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — We’ve all been there. You go outside in the middle of winter; the temperature is below freezing, and your car decides not to start. These could all be signs that your car battery is in need of a replacement.

If you find yourself reaching for your jumper cables more often than not this time of year to restart your car battery, you’re not alone. But it’s actually not the cold weather itself that’s doing the damage to your battery. 

“A lot of people think that the winter takes the toll on the battery. In reality it’s the heat from the summer that takes the toll on them and then when things cool down in the winter, you lose a lot of the potential from the battery,” Ryan says.

The liquid electrolytes found within the car battery have a reaction to both hot and cold temperatures. During the summer the heat causes faster chemical reactions to occur which increases the rate of corrosion, while the opposite happens in the winter.

“Cold temperatures can drain a car battery 50-60% or as far as the power output, so when it gets colder the chemical reaction between the lead and sulfuric acid slows so you have a lower output from the battery,” Ryan says.

This lower output results in a battery with a much lower charge, and you see the effects of this in the cold when the battery dies, and the car won’t start. 

“Make sure you’re not leaving anything on when you get out of the car. Make sure all the overhead lights go off. Also you don’t want to do a lot of short trips; short trips do not replenish what was taken from the battery,” Ryan says.

If your car battery is getting close to 4 or 5 years old and it’s slow to crank, or start, it may be worth it getting it checked, or at least having a pair of jumper cables in your car just in case you need them in a pinch.

Some places offer free battery checks, but you can also have a mechanic look at your car battery at any local car repair shop.