Living in Alaska means keeping you Subaru going in extreme environmental conditions. As temperatures dip down to single or negative digits there are a few things you can do to help your Subaru make it through the cold periods. The key focus would be on the electrical operating system. Batteries are basically an electrical storage bank and when we crank the car over we are draining our bank account. Batteries are rated with Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). It has been our experience at A&A The Shop that whether you drive the Outback, Impreza, Forester, Legacy or Tribeca they come from the factory with batteries rated at 490 cold cranking amps. The bad news is that the temperature affects the cold cranking amps of the battery. If you have a battery rated at 500 cca and it is 0 degrees your battery has lost half of its cold cranking amps and now has the reserve of 250 amps. If you park outside or your Subaru sits out all day you have less starting capacity. Multiply this over an extended period of days and your car will have trouble starting. If you lose enough charge on your battery it will actually freeze and ruin your battery.
Your alternator and a good healthy battery are the best defense against a no start on a cold day. A newer battery can take a charge faster than an older one. Another thing to keep in mind is that when we turn that key to start the engine we are sending as many amps as possible to the starter motor to crank the engine over. That also uses up a lot of the cold cranking amps reserved in the battery.
One of the other major problems we see here at A&A The Shop is starter problems during or after a cold snap. The starter is working a lot harder to crank over your Subaru’s cold engine, and getting less amps to do the job. The starter also has to crank longer when cold to get the engine fired up, causing accelerated wear and tear on the motor and Bendix.
Your alternator is the key component in your Subaru that keeps your electrical system happy and healthy. The alternators main job is to charge up your battery, which then feeds power to the rest of your car. When it gets cold we immediately turn our seat heaters, blower motors, wipers, defroster, lights and etc. When we do this the alternator can’t keep up and we start losing more cold cranking amps out of the battery than the alternator can put in. This is especially enhanced when our commute is only a few miles. Several days of this and our battery freezes and we can‘t start our car.
What can you do to prevent this from happening? At A&A The Shop we have developed a few helpful things that you can do to help your Subaru through the winter. The first thing and the least expensive are to make sure your battery is good to make it through the winter. The second is to equip your Subaru with a block heater and battery blanket. The block heater keeps the engine warm making it easier to turn over and reducing the amount of amps being drawn from the battery. A battery blanket is an electric blanket that is wrapped around the battery keeping it warm. This takes the battery from 250 cold cranking amps back up to 500 amps, which helps the starter crank the engine over more quickly and reduces starter wear. The third thing you can do if you do not have a battery blanket is to drive your Subaru a longer distance every two or three days giving the alternator the opportunity to run at higher rpm ( revolutions per minute) which gives it time to charge up your battery.
Follow our helpful hints and you will reduce the chance of an electrical system failure and prevent wear and tear on your electrical components saving big money on car repairs in the future.
Happy Holidays and stay warm!
A&A The Shop
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