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Background:

I've been having an issue with my car recently where the battery will "die" when I attempt to start my car the morning after an extremely cold night (<32 F). I drive a 2013 Hyundai Genesis, 3.8L V6, 4 door sedan. I live in Indiana (US) so it gets pretty cold but we aren't talking about much below 0 aside from windchill.

Here's my scenario:

I unlock my car, push the Push to Start button, hear a click, and then lose all power to the car. To fix this, I have to go to the battery and push down on the cable connecting the positive battery lead to the car. Once I've done that, the car regains power, and starts up just like normal. I've attempted to tighten the fastener for the positive lead but it is as tight as I can reasonably get it (although there is still some movement to it if you pull/push hard enough). This issue 100% does not happen at all if the outside temperature is above 50 degrees. This was something that came up last winter, I dealt with it, it went away in the Spring/Summer so I thought it was miraculously fixed, but unfortunately the issue came back the day we had outside temperatures below ~40 F.

There are a few outliers to this:

  • A few times the car has lost power on the initial unlocking of the door
  • Even less frequently, the car will regain power before I've even gotten to the battery (this has happened only once or twice).
  • Sometimes the car will lose power on Push to Start after it had just started normally no more than an hour earlier.

Outside of those outliers, it remains consistent to scenario I've outlined. I'm wondering if anyone has any idea of what could be happening and why it is so heavily tied to the outside temperature (specifically cold weather)?

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Sounds like your battery terminal connectors are stretched to the point that they are loose even when the bolt is fully tightened. Best fix would be to replace them with new connectors. Alternatively you could add a thin shim of metal between the post and the connector.

Since the metal lead (battery post) has a high thermal expansion coefficient, my guess why it happens in the cold is that the battery posts shrink in the cold just enough to loosen the poorly fitting connector enough to give a bad connection.

  • 1
    A thin copper shim is a good idea to test! – Tedwin Nov 13 at 21:50
  • I'd try the shim first since that takes very little effort or money to test. – kyle_engineer Nov 14 at 0:07
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Clearly there is an electrical connection problem, either external to the battery or internally.

First of all, check the battery cables, both the (+) and (-) connectors. Disconnect them, clean off any debris or corrosion, make sure the terminals are clean, and reconnect the cables and tighten the bolts securely.

That may resolve the problem at little or no cost to you.

The other possibility is that the battery is failing internally and you really can't do much but take it to a auto shop or auto parts store and ask them to LOAD TEST the battery. That usually will show any issues.

Generally, however, if the battery is more than 4-5 years old, you can count on it going bad. Assuming your 2013 has the original battery in it, that makes it at least 6-7 years old already and chances are good it needs to be replaced. If it's already been replaced, you may have some warranty left on it. Find that receipt and take it to the dealer for that brand of battery.

  • Forgot to mention that I have cleaned the (+) and (-) connectors of corrosion or debris. I have tightened the bolts on the connectors as tight as it can get (before stripping) but I could still pull the positive connector off if I tried and wiggled it enough. Negative connector is on solid. Could a loose connection be a cause of this? Why would it only occur during cold weather? – Matt Nov 13 at 19:54
  • Yes, a loose connection could cause this. Why in cold weather? Because the amount of current needed to turn over a COLD engine is much greater than when it's warm. You should NOT be able to pull off a battery terminal connector by hand. Either tighten it or replace it. – jwh20 Nov 13 at 21:00

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