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How to Keep a Car Battery From Dying in Cold Weather

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 11/17/2022

person standing at the front of a car with the hood up holding jumper cables

Winter is tough on your car's battery. Cold weather makes it harder for the battery to turn over your engine and, if the charge gets low enough, you can find yourself stranded. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help protect your vehicle during the winter months. Here is everything you need to know to keep your car battery from dying in cold weather.

Why Do Batteries Fail in Cold Weather?

When the temperature drops, the cold slows down the chemical reactions taking place inside your battery. This, in turn, reduces the amount of electrical current the battery can produce. Cold weather also thickens the oil in your vehicle's engine, making it harder to pump through the engine block and start your engine. So, basically, you have a situation where your battery has to work harder than normal, while operating with less power. If you have an older battery in your car or truck, it's more likely to fail due to being overworked.

Can a Car Battery Freeze?

Additionally, the electrolyte inside your auto battery can freeze during particularly low temperatures, causing the liquid to expand. This can warp the battery's lead plates and cause the exterior casing to crack. If you notice that your battery has cracks or appears swollen, do not attempt to start your engine.

What are Cold Cranking Amps?

Cold cranking amps (CCAs) tell you how well your battery will perform in cold weather. In particular, a CCA rating measures the amount of current your battery can discharge and sustain for 30 seconds at a temperature of 0℉, while still maintaining a terminal battery voltage of 1.2 volts of current per cell. That's pretty technical, but the important thing to keep in mind is that a battery with a higher CCA rating will be able to deliver more power to offset the impact of the cold.

How Many Cold Cranking Amps Do I Need?

Auto manufacturers provide a recommended CCA rating for each vehicle they produce. You can find the CCA rating for your specific make and model in your owner's manual. When replacing the battery in your car or truck, do not use a battery with a lower CCA rating than your vehicle demands. If you live in an area prone to particularly cold weather, you can, however, purchase a battery with a higher CCA rating than your owner's manual recommends.

AGM Batteries Perform Better in Cold Weather

If you live in an area that experiences very cold winters, you may want to consider investing in an AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery. While AGM batteries carry a greater upfront cost than traditional flooded batteries, they offer a number of advantages when dealing with cold weather.

  • AGM batteries typically have higher CCA ratings for more reliable engine starting.
  • They also possess a lower self discharge rate, allowing them to hold a charge for much longer in storage.
  • AGM batteries recharge faster than standard flooded batteries.
  • Due to their internal design, the electrolyte in an AGM battery won't expand when frozen like it will in a flooded battery. This protects the battery's plates from cracking.
  • AGM batteries typically last up to 2X longer than standard flooded batteries; many owners end up saving money with an AGM battery in the long run.

What Brand of Car Batteries are Best?

If you're looking for the best battery possible for your car or truck, look no further than X2Power. X2Power is Batteries Plus' exclusive line of Thin Plate Pure Lead AGM batteries, engineered to be the longest-lasting, best-performing auto batteries on the market. Here are some of the many advantages X2Power batteries have to offer:

  • 3X longer lifespan than traditional flooded auto batteries
  • Provides 100% starting & reserve power in any climate
  • Recharges 5X faster than flooded batteries
  • 28X more resistant to vibrations
  • 99.9% pure lead electrochemistry greatly increases temperature & corrosion resistance
  • Made in the USA
  • 4-year replacement warranty

Additional Cold Weather Tips

While your choice of battery plays a significant role in cold weather performance, there are some additional things you can do to protect your battery during winter.

  • Avoid short driving trips in extremely cold weather. Frequently starting and stopping your engine will drain your battery without giving it the time to recharge properly.
  • Once a week, drive your vehicle for about 30 minutes at highway speeds to fully charge the battery.
  • Keep a jump starter in your car in case your battery dies.

How Do You Keep a Car Battery Charged in Storage?

If you plan on storing a vehicle for the season, you'll need to pick up a high-quality auto battery charger. It's essential that you charge your battery any time it will be sitting idle for an extended period of time. If you allow your battery to drop below its minimum charge, you may not be able to charge it back up again come spring. For tips on finding the right battery charger, read our blog entitled "When Should You Use a Battery Maintainer?"

Should I Take the Battery Out of My Car for Winter Storage?

It's also a good idea to remove the battery while storing a vehicle. Doing so will make it easier to connect to a charger for long periods of time and help you avoid any parasitic draws from the vehicle. Once the battery has been disconnected, store it in a battery box to help protect it from extreme temperatures and elements like wind, rain, dirt and debris. If you can't remove your vehicle's battery, that's okay. Just be sure to get a charger that's capable of remaining connected to your battery for long periods of time.

Trust Batteries Plus for Your Winter Auto Needs

Winter can be tough on your vehicle's battery, but by taking a few simple steps, you can protect yourself from battery failure. If your current battery is several years old, or if you'd just like to be sure it's performing properly, have it tested for free at your nearest Batteries Plus.

If you need a replacement, we have top-quality auto batteries for any make and model, plus we offer expert installation on most makes and models. You can also help protect your new battery by taking advantage of our Premier Installation Service. Learn more in our Auto Center.

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