Cold Weather Battery Tips

January 2016 Spotlight Trevor Mason Web Exclusive

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here at our home base in Idaho it was really, really cold over the holidays. So cold, in fact, that my truck had a hard time starting most days. I’m pretty sure the blame lands squarely on my failing battery. If I’d had the following cold weather tips, maybe I could have avoided some of my troubles. Interstate Batteries sent these along, and even if some of these are common sense, it’s good for a reminder every now and then. 

“Cold weather affects auto batteries more than any other engine component. Filled with fluid containing mostly water, batteries are susceptible to freezing when the battery is not fully charged. Additionally, cold weather thickens engine oil, forcing the battery to work harder when starting the car. Your vehicle’s battery loses approximately 35 percent of its efficiency when the temperature dips below freezing and close to 60 percent of its efficiency when the temperature falls below zero.” 

  1. Have the vehicle’s starting and charging system tested every three months or every oil change. 
  1. Use a battery charger to maintain charge levels and keep the battery in good condition. If the battery is more than three years old, have it tested more frequently to ensure it can survive the coldest winter months and/or replace it as a preventative measure. 
  1. Have the battery tested before taking a long trip. 
  1. Inspect the battery cables, posts and fasteners. Make sure the cables are in good shape and are secured firmly to the battery. Cable corrosion reduces power from flowing freely from the battery, reducing the power available to start the car.  
  1. Clean the battery terminals with a wire brush or battery cleaner spray. 
  1. Choose the appropriate battery for the vehicle. It should be the correct size and ratings, especially for a vehicle that experiences extremely harsh winter conditions.  
  1. When possible, keep the vehicle in a garage overnight or plugged in, especially in areas with extremely harsh winter conditions. If garage storage is not possible, invest in a battery heater.  
  1. If the battery is not a sealed model, check the fluid levels, using distilled water to fill any cells that appear low. 
  1. When working with or around a battery, always wear protective eyewear, remove all jewelry and wear long sleeves to protect skin from an explosion of battery acid. 
  1. Don’t forget to load up on all the many different types and sizes of batteries you will need for those battery-operated toys and gadgets you received as gifts.  Interstate Batteries provides a dependable line of more than 17,000 different products. 

December may be over, but there’s still plenty of cold weather ahead (they say that the four seasons in Idaho are Not Quite Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction), so these tips are still going to be relevant for a few months.

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