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How to Keep a Car Battery From Dying in Cold Weather

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 11/12/2020

Woman driving an orange van in the winter with another woman and man in the back seat.

Winter is tough on your car’s battery. Cold weather makes it harder to turn over your engine, which can leave you stranded. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your vehicle during the winter months. Here are our top tips to help keep your car battery from dying in cold weather.

Why Do Batteries Fail in Cold Weather?

Batteries have to work harder to start a vehicle in cold weather. If you have an older battery in your car or truck it’s more likely to fail due to being overworked. Additionally, the electrolyte housed in auto batteries can also freeze during particularly low temperatures, which can lead to swelling or cracking in the battery.

AGM Batteries Perform Better in Cold Weather

If you live in an area that experiences particularly difficult winters, you might want to consider investing in an AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery for your car or truck. While AGM batteries are more of an investment upfront than traditional flooded lead acid batteries, they offer a number of advantages. The overall cost of ownership is actually lower on an AGM with the extended warranty that’s included.

First off, AGM batteries tend to have longer life cycles than flooded battery types. They’re ideal for frequent start/stop vehicles and better for short distance driving. When the weather is freezing, you can trust the extreme cold weather starting power to turn over your engine. AGM batteries can hold a charge longer in storage, plus they require a significantly shorter re-charging time in case you need to get back on the road again quickly. If you live in an area prone to intense cold or high heat (which is even more detrimental to your battery than cold), an AGM battery is your best bet.

Our X2Power AGM battery is the best auto battery in the industry, and you can only get it at Batteries Plus Bulbs. Check out our auto battery page, to search for yours by make and model. Here are the specifications:

  • Made in the USA
  • 99.9% pure lead
  • 28X vibration resistance
  • 5x faster recharge rate
  • Unmatched cycle life
  • True Dual Purpose (Start/ Deep Cycle) Performance
  • 100% spill proof/maintenance free
  • Unmatched 5 year warranty

Multiple Short Driving Trips

The way you drive can also have an impact on your battery’s performance. In extremely cold weather, avoid short trips in which you are frequently starting and stopping your engine. Short trips put a greater strain on your battery. This is because the alternator requires time to recharge the battery after starting your engine. You can help your battery out by occasionally driving for longer periods of time, giving your battery the time it needs to fully recharge between uses.

It’s also a good idea to store your car or truck in the garage whenever possible. This will help protect your battery from extreme temperatures.

Keep a Jump Starter in Your Car for Emergencies

While following the tips above will help minimize the likelihood of being stranded, it’s still possible for your battery to fail in extreme cold. That’s why we recommend keeping a safety kit in your car in case of emergencies.

One of the most important things to include in your kit is a jump starter. Jump starters are portable chargers that allow you to jump start your engine without the use of another vehicle. They’re lightweight, easy-to-use and provide great peace of mind.

The NOCO GB40 Genius Boost Plus is the perfect addition to your winter driving kit. It is compatible with gas engines of up to 6 liters and diesel engines of up to 3 liters. Plus, it provides up to 20 jump starts from a single charge.

If you’re looking for something a bit more powerful, we suggest the NOCO GB70 Genius Boost. It provides up to 40 jumps on a single charge and works with gas engines up to 8 liters and diesel engines up to 6 liters.

How to Winterize a Car for Storage

We’ve covered how to care for a car you’ll be driving during winter, but what about vehicles that you plan on storing for the season? If you are planning on putting a car into storage, you’re going to need a high-quality charger. Charging your battery when it is sitting idle for long periods of time is essential in maintaining it properly. If you allow an auto battery to drop below a minimum charge, you may not be able to charge it back up again and might have to replace it entirely come spring.

It’s recommended that you remove the battery from your vehicle while it is in storage. While not essential, this will make it easier to connect to a charger for long periods of time and avoid any parasitic draws from the vehicle. Once your battery has been disconnected, it’s also a good idea to store it in a battery box. Battery boxes help protect your battery from extreme temperatures, elements like wind and rain, as well as dirt and debris. f you cannot 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.

Car Battery Charging Tips

Depending on the type of charger you have, it might be necessary to monitor the charging process to avoid overcharging. Overcharging can be equally damaging to your battery, so you want to be sure to remove the battery from your charger before you reach that point.

Battery maintainers are a great option for storing vehicles over a long period of time. These automatic chargers will monitor your battery, cutting off the power when it reaches a full charge and charging it back up again once it drops below its ideal voltage. This eliminates the need to monitor and manually remove them, allowing you to simply set it and then forget it.

The Battery Tender Car and Truck CEC Compliant 1.25 Amp Charger is perfect for winterizing cars or trucks. It automatically switches from charge to float mode to prevent your battery from overcharging and can be used on cars, ATVs, boats, motorcycles, lawn mowers and personal watercraft.

If you are storing several vehicles at once, we suggest the Battery Tender Car and Truck 4 Bank Charger. It has 4 independent charging stations and works with all AGM, sealed and flooded auto batteries.

Winter can be tough on your vehicle’s battery, but by taking a few steps you can protect yourself from battery failure. If your current battery is several years old, or you’d just like to be sure it’s performing properly, you can have it tested for free at your local Batteries Plus Bulbs. If you do end up needing a replacement, we have batteries for any make and model, plus we offer free installation on most cars and trucks.