Few things can be more frustrating than jumping into the driver’s seat on a frosty morning, turning the key in the ignition and failing to hear the engine roar to life.
Frigid weather can cause trouble with a car’s battery. Some drivers do not understand why, but getting the facts can help people avoid having to deal with dead batteries on cold winter days.
Cold temperatures wreak havoc on batteries because they slow the chemical reaction inside of the battery. Though batteries can function under myriad conditions, the cold weather tends to degrade high-quality batteries and may render subpar batteries useless.
Related: Tips for driving on winter roads
There are various ways to protect a battery from failure in the cold, and some of them involve taking precautionary measures even before the arrival of cold weather.
Here’s a few tips to avoid a dead battery
- Assess the age of your battery. If your battery is old, now may be the time to replace it. Batteries differ in how long they last, but many last anywhere from five to 10 years. If your car is still running on its original battery and your card is several years old, it may be a good idea to get a new battery before the arrival of winter. Battery size will not necessarily provide better starting. It’s important to buy the correct battery for the make of your car, which can usually be found inside of the owner’s manual.
- Verify that there is no corrosion. Corrosion can prevent a car from starting just as much as a worn-out battery. Corrosion is caused by a faulty connection that allows battery acid to escape and corrode surrounding areas. Regularly inspect the battery to keep abreast of issues that may cause corrosion. Carefully clean away any corrosive residue that has formed and make sure the battery is correctly seated.
- Install a battery blanket. A battery blanket is used to wrap around the battery and fit inside of the battery cover. A cord with a plug runs from the blanket to a wall outlet. The blanket can produce enough heat to keep the battery fluid from freezing. A trickle charger can also be mounted on the battery. It will deliver enough power to the battery while the car is off to keep it from freezing.
- Minimize the use of automotive accessories. Do not start the car with the heater and the radio on. They can use up the power coming from the car’s alternator and prevent the battery from charging. Do not leave the heat and the radio on while the car is idling. Otherwise the car will not be putting out enough power for the alternator to charge the battery and power the electrical systems.
- Disconnect the battery. If your car will be stored in a garage for the winter, disconnect the battery. Certain devices, such as clocks and alarm systems, continue to drain battery power when the vehicle is off. If your car will not be driven enough to recharge the battery, keep it disconnected when the automobile is being stored.
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