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Winter Wear on Your Car Battery

Power - by Jessica Carey - updated on 12/28/2012

A dead car battery is always a pain. However, when your car battery dies in the cold, dry winter months, it is especially painful and can even be dangerous. Winter weather is hard on your car battery. If you haven't taken the right precautions, you may be unpleasantly surprised with a dead battery the next time you get in your car.

Winter is tough on batteries for two reasons:

  1. The engines are far harder to turn over because all the oil inside them has thickened – this demands much more current from a battery.
  2. The chemical reactions that generate electricity are slower at lower temperatures.

So beat the cold and follow these tips to keep your car or truck batteries performing at their best:

Jeep driving in the snow

#1 – Visually Inspect the Battery

You should first inspect the battery casing for cracks, leaks and other damage. Damaged batteries need to be replaced immediately. The battery and cables should be free of corrosion, the cable ends should be secured to the battery posts securely, and the cables should be checked for damage and wear.

#2 – Have Older Car Batteries Tested

If your battery is three years or older, ask one of our trained associates to perform a cold cranking power test (CCA test) on it. This test measures the amount of power (amps) the battery is able to produce for a half a minute when the temperature is zero degrees Fahrenheit, while maintaining a minimum terminal voltage of 7.2 volts. A car battery can lose 30 to 50 percent of its power when the temperature drops down below the freezing point and more than half its power when the temperature drops below zero. If your vehicle’s battery has reached the end of its life, we sell dozens of car battery replacement options from top brands like DieHard and X2Power. Plus, we offer professional installation on most model cars and trucks.

#3 – If Possible, Park in the Garage During the Winter Months

Another tip to help keep your battery working this winter is to park it inside. Protecting the battery from the freezing temperatures and the frigid winds will help keep its power level up. If parking in a garage isn't possible, and it's going to sit outside in the weather for several hours, start it up a few times and let the engine run.

#5 – Use a Trickle Battery Charger

Whether your car sits outside or in an unheated garage, you can use a car battery charger to keep it starting easily. Hook a battery charger up, and the power will trickle in as it's needed. The battery won't be overcharged.

Batteries Plus has over 30,000 batteries and trained associates there to install them, so make us your automotive battery source. Visit your local Batteries Plus store to have your car or truck battery and electrical system tested for FREE – no appointment is necessary!