Winter Car Battery Care: Tips to Ensure Reliable Starts in Cold Weather

If you’re like most people, the anxiety of leaving home with a nearly depleted cell phone battery is a familiar feeling. Missing important texts, losing GPS navigation, or being unable to stream your favorite music can be frustrating. But what if your car’s battery dies on a freezing morning, and you have to resort to using one of your socks as a makeshift signal flag? While the latter scenario might be extreme, it’s a situation we can help you avoid.

While you can always check your phone’s battery life, you probably don’t know the status of your car’s battery, which is the one that could leave you stranded, especially during cold weather. The summer heat can strain your car’s battery, potentially leaving it weakened as winter approaches. As beautiful as the first frost may be on the autumn leaves, it could be the last straw for your trusty old battery. But fear not! With these helpful tips and tricks, you can ensure your battery stays charged all winter long.

Give Your Car Shelter from the Cold:

Parking your car in a garage, away from the icy winds, can provide some protection for your battery. If you have access to an electrical outlet, you can go the extra mile by using an electric battery blanket. Don’t have a garage? Make sure to park your car with the front facing away from the prevailing wind direction.

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Wait Before Activating Accessories:

On frosty days, it’s tempting to crank up the heat, turn on the lights, and start the radio as soon as you get in your car. However, it’s better to wait a minute and let your alternator charge the battery before adding any additional electrical demands. Also, be sure to turn off any accessories that rely on battery power before leaving your vehicle. Starting your car draws power from the battery, and the extra load from accessories can drain it quickly, especially in cold weather.

Top Up Your Battery:

A fully charged battery typically won’t freeze until it reaches -76°F (-60°C). However, if your battery is discharged, it could start freezing at 32°F (0°C). If your car hesitates to start, consider jump-starting it. Make sure to follow safe jump-starting procedures to avoid damaging your battery or electrical system.

Maintain a Clean Battery:

Cold temperatures increase electrical resistance and thicken engine oil, making the battery work harder. Dirt, grime, and corrosion on the battery terminals can worsen this resistance. If you spot a white powder resembling dry skin on winter hands around the terminals, that’s corrosion. Fortunately, you don’t need fancy tools; a damp cloth, some baking soda, water, and a toothbrush can keep your battery terminals clean. Applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly after cleaning can help prevent further corrosion and ensure your battery keeps going strong throughout the season.

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Pre-Winter Battery Check:

Instead of waiting for your battery to fail during the busy winter season, it’s wise to get it checked before the cold weather hits. Firestone Complete Auto Care offers free battery checks, giving you peace of mind and the opportunity to replace your battery if needed before winter arrives. A healthy battery is the best way to ensure reliable starts during the colder months.