Cold Weather Car Battery Maintenance Tips

February 02, 2022

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Cold winter temperatures can significantly shorten the life of your car battery. You often don’t realize your battery is drained until the car refuses to start when it’s below freezing outside. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be at your home when this happens.

More often than not, many motorists find themselves stranded in a work or store parking lot as the temps continue to drop while the sun starts to set.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your car had a battery gauge like the one on your cell phone? This way, you can tell when your battery is low on juice. While that may be wishful thinking, there are a few things that you can do to prevent having to call AAA to jump-start a dead battery when it’s below freezing outside.

Read on to learn how to maintain your car battery in cold winter temperatures.

Wait to Turn on Your Car Accessories

Oh, how tempting it is to get into your car on a cold winter morning and turn on the seat warmers, put on the heater, and turn on some tunes from the radio. These accessories can put a significant drain upon your battery when you start your car in cold temperatures.

Instead, when you start your car, give the alternator a few minutes to charge the battery up before turning on the heater and other accessories. Try to avoid using any unnecessary accessories—such as the passenger seat heater. This will help conserve power and prevent your battery from getting further drained.

Short Trips Drain Car Batteries

The alternator only recharges your car battery when the car is in motion. If you find yourself making very short trips—either from home to work or home to the grocery store, your alternator won’t have enough time to regenerate the battery juice.

Try taking the long way home or visiting a grocery store a few miles out from your normal one. As long as driving conditions are safe and the roads free from snow and ice, the extra few miles you drive will help keep your battery juiced up.

Parking Your Car

Try to park your car in a garage whenever possible. Whether that’s the mall parking garage or your home garage, it will help protect your car battery. While it may not be much, the temperatures inside a garage are often a tad bit warmer than keeping your car exposed to the outside freezing elements. If you are forced to park outside, try to park in an area that isn’t directly hit by the wind.

Buy a Car Battery Charger

Fully charged batteries often don’t freeze until the outside temperatures reach -72F. However, partially charged batteries can freeze at a mere 32F. Consider buying a car battery charger and connecting it to your battery if it’s looking like it’s a bit low on juice. As a bonus, if your car refuses to start one morning, you can skip the hassle of calling AAA and instead let the charger jump-start your battery.

Clean Your Battery

Pop the hood of your car and look at the terminals on your battery. Do you notice a white powder-like substance on the positive or negative terminals? This means your battery terminals are corroded as internal battery cells can sulfate and flake/shed material.

Battery corrosion acts as resistance and forces your battery to work even harder during the cold winter months. To clean off the corrosion, disconnect both terminals and use baking soda, water, a wet cloth, and a stiff toothbrush to wipe away the gunk and grime gently.

Before reconnecting, apply a small amount of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to each terminal. This will help act as a seal to the air and help prevent corrosion from occurring in the future.

Check Your Battery Before It Gets Cold

It’s far easier to change out a dead battery at your leisure—say, on a warm Saturday morning in the summertime. During the cold winter months, car batteries start flying off the store shelves—as those who didn’t perform maintenance suddenly realize their car won’t start.

You can also take your battery to your local mechanic, and they’ll use a hand-held machine that will let you know its overall health. The process takes about five minutes, and it is highly recommended you do so in the late summer or early fall months.

Car, Truck, and R.V. Batteries from Continental Battery

At Continental Battery, we’ve been providing our customers with high-quality batteries for well over 85 years. We’re dedicated to developing and maintaining great, long-lasting customer relationships backed up by our superior quality products. Contact us today to learn more about our company and line of car, truck, and R.V. batteries.