Car batteries don’t like the cold. And the colder the weather gets, the weaker the battery gets. Even a strong, fully charged battery won’t feel 100% if the temperatures drop enough. And if your battery is only half-charged, it’ll freeze solid at just -10 F.
And here’s the problem, you may only discover a dead battery the very moment when you want to get going. Let’s talk about what you can do to avoid a dead battery this winter.
GET YOUR BATTERY CHECKED. It’s simple and easy — and usually free at repair shops & service centers. The service technician will test your battery and let you know if your battery is good, needs to be replaced immediately, or let you know a time frame for replacing your battery. Knowing this information will help you decide when and where to replace your battery versus finding out the hard way (with your vehicle not starting).
DRIVING. Driving every day keeps the cold at bay. Your engine warms the battery when you drive (as long as you’re doing daily drives that are not short drives, like a mile or two and then you stop). A minimum of a ten to 20-minute drive will keep the acid moving and you will get a charge going into your battery. Here’s a rule of thumb: Drive the length of your commute every day, even if you’re on a holiday break. And the moment your start-up seems to slow down, get to a repair shop. That’s an early sign your battery is going to die...and driving won’t help bring a dead battery back to life.
PARK YOUR CAR INSIDE, IF POSSIBLE. Ambient temperatures can kill your battery if they drop too low. Instead, park in these places: in your garage, in parking garages with a lot of come-and-go traffic, near heated equipment, close to warm buildings, in spaces with lots of direct sunlight - which will warm the body of the car, or anywhere that can be warmer than a shaded area.
WRAP YOUR CAR BATTERY IN A THERMAL BLANKET. Battery warmers, insulators, electric battery blankets, thermal wrap — they go by many names, but they’re all a corrosion-resistant heat blanket for your battery. They’re available online or in stores. In a pinch, you can throw a dry, thick bath towel on the battery after you’ve driven enough to warm the engine. As soon as you park, pack the towel onto the battery — and the extra coating will retain the engine heat. Just be sure to remove the towel before you start the engine again!
IF YOU HAVE A FROZEN BATTERY, HERE'S WHAT YOU SHOULD DO. What if the worst happens? Batteries aren’t as easy to freeze as ice cubes in a tray, but it’s still possible. What happens then? And what should you do about it? First, remember that water expands as it freezes. There’s only so much space inside the plastic battery case. As water expands into ice, it’ll warp the lead plates and crack open the case. Even when the battery and its inner liquids thaw out, the battery has probably already formed into a short circuit. After all, it’s frozen solid, and the negative and positive plates have most likely joined. In that instance, you need to replace your battery immediately! At the end of the day, don’t try to crank or jump-start your battery if it shows bulges, cracks, icicles, or frost on the terminals or plastic case.
Following these guidelines will help ensure that your battery is winter-ready!
We hope that you find these tips useful. And as always … safe journeys on your trips around town. Big City Cars is located at 4910 Lima Road, just down from Costco. Or give us a call today at (260) 212-1111. We look forward to helping you get into a quality preowned vehicle that fits your lifestyle & budget.