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Can Cold Weather Kill a Car Battery?

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It’s not uncommon to get into your car in the dead of winter only to discover that your car won’t start. The cold can really take a toll on a car’s battery and other components. It only takes several hours for freezing temperatures to have this effect. The more you understand about why this happens, the easier it will be to prevent in the future. Anyone who lives in an area where temperatures plummet during the winter months should have this information.

Old Batteries are More Prone to Dying

Even extremely cold temperatures very rarely kill a battery that was put in fairly recently. Older batteries on the other hand are more vulnerable to the chilly winter weather. The longer you have had your battery, the more likely this is to happen.

If your car won’t start on a cold winter morning despite your battery being relatively new, you might just need to get it jumped. Make sure that you drive the car around for a while before turning it off and taking the key out of the ignition. This will ensure that it gets a good charge so you won’t run into the same problem again the next time you get in your car.

Limited Capacity

When temperatures hit 32 degrees, the overall capacity of your battery is cut by 20%. The lower its capacity, the more likely it is that you won’t be able to start your car. As the temperature drops, so does the power output of the battery.

Solidified Oil

If the oil in your car begins to solidify even a little, the battery can die. This is because it is forced to work a lot harder than it normally does.

Increased Use

The more you use your headlight brights, heater, defroster and windshield wipers, the larger of a load is put on your battery. This can sometimes result in an inability to recharge properly. While this is not a common explanation, it is one possibility.

How to Keep Your Battery from Dying in the Winter

It is very important that you make a point of doing everything possible to ensure that your car’s battery does not die when winter rolls around. There are actually a number of ways that you can do this.

Get it Looked at

You can (and should) get your battery checked once or twice each year by a qualified mechanic. This will tell you whether or not it is holding a charge like it should. Your mechanic will let you know if it is time to replace your battery.

You will be able to inspect your battery for corrosion, which can cause problems with its overall functionality. If you do notice some corrosion on your battery’s contacts, you can use a special spray to get rid of it. This should significantly improve the performance of your battery. The older your battery is, the more likely it is to have noticeable corrosion. You don’t want to simply let it sit, as this can cause major problems.

Drive Your Car Every Day

You should make a point of driving your car each day for a minimum of ten minutes. At the very least, you’ll want to turn it on and just let the engine run. This can go a long way towards avoiding a dead battery on a cold winter morning.

Keep Your Car in the Garage

It is also recommended that you keep your car in the garage, especially in the winter months. This will greatly reduce its overall susceptibility to the cold. If you have a well-insulated garage, you definitely won’t have to worry about your battery dying from the cold weather.

Use a Plug-in Warmer

There are devices that you can buy to warm up your car before you even start it up. You can plug the device into the standard 12-volt cigarette lighter. Make sure that you let it work for at least 10 minutes before attempting to start your car. The warmer it is before you turn the key over in the ignition, the more likely it will be to get going.

You also have the option of wrapping your vehicle up with a thermal blanket. These blankets can mitigate the harmful effects of the cold on your car. While it may not be as effective as keeping it in a garage, it is an option worth considering.

Keep the Accessories to a Minimum

One of the big reasons for pre-mature battery death is leaving too many accessories plugged in inside your vehicle. These devices draw power from the alternator, which is not good for your battery at all. You should make a point of unplugging them when they are not in use. This can extend the life of your battery by quite a lot.

Invest in a Battery Charger

A battery conditioner can help to extend the life of your battery if you don’t typically do a lot of driving. The great thing about this device is that you won’t have to worry about overcharging being a problem.

A float charger can also help to keep your battery functioning properly. It will automatically begin charging when the voltage of the battery drops a certain amount. These chargers aren’t very expensive and can help you save money in the long term. It is a great investment to make when it comes to conserving your battery.

Final Thoughts

Extremely cold temperatures can really do a number on your car’s battery, so you’ll need to take certain precautions. There are plenty of different ways to avoid trouble with this part of your car when winter hits. Make sure that you get your battery tested at least once every year so you know whether or not it is functioning properly. This will give you a better idea as to what the chances are of the battery drying due to very cold weather. By doing these things you will be able to save yourself a lot of hassle and frustration.

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