Does cold weather affect car battery? You already know the answer to this question. Low temperature can destroy your car battery. However, you need not worry. In this article, we are going to discuss how to keep car battery charged in winter.
Winter is the most inhospitable time of the year for car batteries. Subzero temperatures can adversely affect the performance of even new and fully charged batteries, nothing to talk about old ones. In some cases, your battery can simply freeze, especially if it is only half charged. You don’t want a frozen or a dead battery while driving in the wilderness which is pretty common in areas like Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Dakota. You need to take special measures for your battery for it to withstand long cold winters.
How to Keep Car Battery from Dying in Winter?
Car batteries and cold weather do not make a happy couple. The battery can easily die without any prior warning if it remains neglected for a prolonged period. However, there are many ways to keep it charged and running even if temperatures fall below the freezing point. Let us see what you can do in this regard.
1. Get Your Battery Checked
First and foremost, you should get the battery tested before the onset of winter. It is normally free across repair shops in the United States, Canada, and many other countries. All you have to do is to take your car to a repair shop. It is as simple as that. Most mechanics nowadays have a computerized system to check the battery. It shows whether you need to recharge your battery or replace it after assessing the charging and starting systems.
Another excellent method to keep your battery charged in winter is to drive as much as possible. Driving keeps the battery warm and thus prevents freezing and other cold related problems. Driving for at least 10 to 20 minutes a day will provide sufficient exercise to the battery. It will not only increase the movement of the acid but will also keep charging the battery continuously.
One of the earliest signs your battery is dying is the slower start-ups. You must rush to a repair shop if it is the case with your battery. Even driving cannot restore a dead battery.
3. Use a Block Heater
Using a block heater where subzero temperatures are common is a great way to increase the battery’s life. Such a heater will warm the car engine and therefore, the latter will require fewer cold cranking voltages to start. As a result, the engine will exert less pressure on the battery as well. This can especially be useful on very cold mornings that have already drained most of the battery. However, the battery will still have enough power to crank up the engine.
4. Use a Thermal Battery Blanket
Cold weather car battery blanket is a thermal sheet or blanked used to insulate the batteries against the sheer cold. The blanket comes with a small heating pad which you have to plug to a power source. The blanket itself wraps around the battery, keeping it warm and toasty no matter how cold outside it is. You must try this method, especially if your parking place has an easily accessible power outlet. The only downside is that you have to keep it plugged all night long.
5. Carry a Car Battery Jump Starter
Carrying a car battery jump starter will help you start your battery in cold weather with relative ease. Nowadays, you can easily find very small and lightweight portable jump starters from Amazon and other retailers. You also don’t need another car to jump start your car if you have these jump starters. Similarly, they also have USB ports to charge other electronic devices such as smartphones.
Portable jump starters can save the day for you if your battery stops functioning all of a sudden. However, it is better to replace the battery if you already know it is weak and over the edge of dying.
6. Always Park Your Car in a Garage
Most people believe it is the chilly winds that affect the battery’s performance. However, it is far from the truth. It is freezing temperatures you must protect your battery from. The battery will die if the ambient temperature drops too low. Therefore, you must try to park your car in places like a garage, close to heated equipment, near to warm buildings, and garages with a lot of incoming and outgoing traffic. Any place that offers some sort of warmth or cover is better than wide open spaces.
Similarly, you need more warmth to start your car if the battery is too weak. It depends on the age, size, and power of your battery.
7. Keep Charging Your Battery
Sometimes, you have to park your vehicle for a prolonged time in winter. But – how to keep car battery from dying when not in use. Although it is desirable to park the car in a garage and protect it from external elements yet it is not enough. You also need to keep the battery charged. One of the best methods of charging a battery while your car is parked is to use a trickle charger.
A trickle charger works on the same principle as an alternator. It maintains a slow yet constant flow of charge to the battery. Remember that all modern batteries come with a “float” mechanism to prevent overcharging. Similarly, trickle charges are very inexpensive but help you keep battery freezing at bay.
8. Wait before Switching on Accessories
The alternator takes some time to charge your battery after you ignite the engine. Therefore, it is better to wait for 5 to 10 minutes before turning on accessories like the air conditioner, radio, and even lights.
9. Clean Your Battery
The car battery has to work harder in cold weather because of the thickened oil and increased electrical resistance. The resistance can increase manifold if there are corrosion, grim, and dirt on the battery terminals. Therefore, you must clean the battery regularly using some baking soda, water, and a soft toothbrush.
What to Do if You Have a Frozen Battery?
Now, you know why do batteries die in winter and how to keep them alive? But – what if it is already too late and your battery is dead. Batteries take a long time to freeze but it is still possible. So, what you should do if you have a frozen battery in your car?
As you may already know water expands when it freezes. The outcome is the deformed plates which start to touch each other. Similarly, the expanding water will result in the case developing cracks and exploding eventually. The battery would still have a short circuit even after the water and the battery itself thaw. This is because positive and negative terminals have joined due to the deformation.
As mention above, the battery in this state can explode or rapidly disassemble. Therefore, you should not do anything with the frozen battery. Furthermore, you should not try to jump start or crank up the battery if it has any of the following.
- Bulges on the surface
- Frost on the plastic case or terminals
The bottom line is that you should replace your frozen battery altogether or at least call for help.
Hopefully, we have provided a detailed answer to the question of how to keep car battery charged in winter. You must implement all these tips to keep your car battery functional and strong to enjoy driving and commuting during long and cold winters.