How to Avoid a Dead Car Battery in the Winter

  • Jan 26,2017
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With freezing temperatures and so many gray days, it’s no wonder we often feel sleepy and sluggish during this time of year. Did you know that your car battery experiences something similar in cold weather? As the temperature drops, it can become more difficult for your battery to get enough energy to start your car. Thankfully, there are a handful of things you can do to help make sure you don’t get stranded with a dead car battery in winter!

Check the age of your battery

How old is your car battery? If your battery is older than four or five years old, it could be nearing the end of its life. Your battery is like the heart of your vehicle, so why gamble with it? Know it's age and get it replaced when it's "getting up there" in years. The date your battery was shipped from the manufacturer is typically stamped or engraved on the top or side of the battery, depending on the manufacturer. Look for a letter and a digit, with the letter indicating the month the car battery was manufactured and the digit indicating the year it was manufactured. For example, if your battery said, "D13," it was shipped in April 2013 and is about three years old.

Clean off corrosion around the terminals

Turn off the car, pop the hood, and take a look at your battery. Do you see any white powder around the terminals? That’s corrosion, which increases electrical resistance and makes your battery work harder than it needs to. You can use basic household products to clean off and prevent corrosion. Just check out the step-by-step guide from Cars Direct! But if you'd rather not deal with it yourself, bring your car by your local Tires Plus for a Battery Terminal Cleaning Service and Corrosion Protection Package.

Install a battery blanket

You’re not the only one who appreciates a warm blanket on a cold day! Purchase an electric battery blanket to insulate your battery when temperatures start to dip. It will help prevent your battery's fluid from freezing and help your car roar to life on a cold morning. You can find battery blankets for about $20 to $50 online or at your local auto parts store. Battery blankets are simple to install and only require the use of a nearby electrical outlet. Just plug it in, wrap the blanket around your battery, and it will thank you – by working properly! As always, consult your owner's manual before using a battery blanket.

Limit your use of accessories that strain the battery

When you hop into your car in the winter, you probably feel like you're freezing. However, take a pause before you crank up the heat...and your radio, lights, or cell phone charger. Let your alternator charge up the battery for a bit before you add the strain of accessories. When you get out of your car, do the reverse. Turn everything off, so your battery isn’t bombarded with demands when you start it up later!

Keep your battery charged

A depleted battery is more likely to freeze up and fail than one that’s fully charged. If you notice your car straining a bit to start or "turn over" when you turn the key in the ignition, it might be time to pull out the car charger. Give your battery some juice so it can better withstand cruel winter temperatures. You can find a basic portable car battery charger online for around $30, depending on the charger brand and amps delivered.

Get your battery a check-up before it checks out

When it comes to the state of your battery, ignorance is not bliss. Rather than getting caught in the cold with a dead battery, visit your neighborhood Tires Plus for a completely free battery test! With a quick diagnostic check-up you can find out just how much life your battery has left and when you may need a new car battery. If you're tight on time, try out our Virtual Battery Tester for a general idea of how much longer your battery might stick around.

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