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How To Protect Your Battery Against Extreme Weather

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 11/22/2023

Snow covered windshield with COLD written in it

The cold winter air is just around the corner. You need to make sure that you prepare your car or truck battery for the bitter cold winter months. Protecting your battery from the extreme cold that winter can bring is an important step in keeping your battery healthy for a long time.

How Does the Cold Affect Car Batteries?

We recently talked about how the cold can be hard on the battery in your car or truck. As the temperature starts to dip into the freezing zone there are a few things that will start to happen with your battery.

  • Reduced Capacity: As the temperature falls during the winter months, the capacity of the battery falls with it. Once the temperature reaches freezing, 32°F, the battery's capacity has already been reduced by roughly 20%. When the temperature reaches a frigid -22°F the capacity is reduced by 50%.
  • Slower Recharging: Batteries will charge at a slower rate when the ambient temperature is colder and the battery is colder.
  • Higher Power Demand: As the temperature drops, engine oil will thicken, resulting in the starter working harder to crank the engine. To combat this, additional power output is demanded from the battery.

Can a Car Battery Freeze?

Believe it or not, if conditions are right, yes, a car battery can freeze. While unlikely, this is something that can occur if it's cold enough, the battery isn't fully charged and you park your car outside.

The best way to avoid having your battery freeze is to keep your battery fully charged. A fully charged car battery won't freeze until the temperature outside reaches -76°F. The electrolyte solution is mostly water (25% sulfuric acid and 75% water) so naturally, it will freeze under the right conditions. Charging the battery causes a chemical reaction that mixes the liquids which helps it resist freezing.

Leaving a used or discharged battery out in the freezing temperature can freeze much easier when the electrolyte mixture hasn't fully mixed. This can start as soon as the temperature reaches 32°F. If a car battery does freeze it can cause the lead plates to warp and often cause shorts between the positive and negative plates. In most cases, this will end up in you having to replace the battery.

Another great preventive tip is to use a battery that is designed to work better in the cold. Our premium X2Power AGM car and truck batteries are engineered to operate in the harshest conditions with superior temperature tolerances than traditional batteries. Making them great for the winter (and summer too).

The Top 3 Reasons for Batteries Drain in the Winter

  1. Human Error: This may not be a surprise to anyone but many of the reasons a car battery dies in the winter are due to forgetfulness. When exiting your vehicle make sure all the lights are off, accessories are unplugged and turn off any electronics that can draw energy from the battery.
  2. Freezing Temperatures: Freezing temperatures can dramatically reduce the capacity of the car's battery. This will very quickly leave you with a dead or weak battery leaving you stranded.
  3. Loose Connections & Corrosion: There are two metal points of contact on your battery, the positive and negative terminals. Corrosion or loose connections on your terminals will cause a poor connection to the electrical system of the car. This will cause unnecessary strain on the battery making it harder to start the car.

Does Removing Corrosion Help Batteries Last Longer?

Cleaning your terminals and removing corrosion is very easy and it is something you should be doing to keep your battery healthy. Performing routine maintenance on your battery, like removing corrosion, can save you from battery issues in the winter.

If you don't have a terminal protection kit, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water and scrub the terminals with a wire brush to remove any corrosion. Corrosion occurs most often with flooded batteries and non-sealed AGM batteries. Our X2Power premium AGM car and truck batteries have a much lower risk of corrosion.

Learn more about how to keep your battery healthy during winter by reading our blog "How to Prevent Winter Wear on Your Car Battery".

Use Anti-Corrosion Products When New Batteries Are Installed

In any event, corrosion is the leading cause of early battery failure, forcing many people to replace their batteries before they need to. One way to help mitigate this is to get a jump on the corrosion before it even has a chance to develop.

When you have a new battery installed in your car or truck at Batteries Plus, upgrade to our Premier Installation service and our associates will apply terminal cleaner, anti-corrosion spray and terminal protectors while they install your new car battery.

As a bonus for having this service completed, you get to keep (if your local laws allow it) the below items when you leave the store:

Tools To Help Keep Car Batteries Warm

There are several tools available to assist you with maintaining your car or truck batteries and keeping them warm in the winter.

Terminal Cleaners and Protectors

It is always helpful to have terminal cleaner and protector spray in your toolbox. If you had your battery installed by us at Batteries Plus and chose to have our Premier Installation service, you may already have some of this. Just spray it on your terminals and scrub off the gunk to keep your connection clean and secure.

Terminal Brushes

While a normal wire brush will work, a terminal brush is designed specifically for battery terminals. With 360-degree bristles just scrub up and down a few times to get all of the corrosion off. Most even come equipped with a cylindrical brush on the opposite side to clean out the terminal clamps.

Battery Maintainers

A battery maintainer is not only a tool to keep your battery at the optimal voltage to protect and extend the life of the battery, it is also a great way to keep your battery warm in the cold. As the maintainer is keeping the battery at the proper voltage, the battery will also generate a little heat as it's charging, helping it stay warm.

Car and Truck Battery Solutions at Batteries Plus

Your car or truck is your lifeline. You use it for work, fun, chores, you name it. Most car and truck batteries generally last around 3-5 years depending on how they're used and how well you maintain them. Don't just buy any battery and call it a day. Stop into your local Batteries Plus and let us help you find the absolute best battery for your car.

It's getting close to winter and if you want to be sure your battery is in healthy condition, stop into Batteries Plus to have it tested, For free, by the way!

If it turns out your battery needs to be replaced, we have a great selection of car and truck batteries for your needs, no matter how demanding. Have your new battery installed here at Batteries Plus with our optional Premier Installation service to have the added protection your battery needs to get through the winter.

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