Every Michigan resident knows how frustrating winter weather is when it comes to driving and winterizing your car. If you’ve jumped in the car in the morning only to find the battery dead, you’ve experienced yet another unfortunate side effect of cold temperatures, and you know the importance of cold weather car battery care. These tips can help keep your battery alive and well during the winter months.
Try These 8 Cold Weather Car Battery Care Tips
First, it’s a fact; car batteries do not work as well in cold temperatures. Car batteries generate electricity through a chemical reaction, which slows down in cold temperatures, generating less power. But with the right cold weather car battery care, you can still get the most out of your battery in the winter.
1. Covered Parking
Covered parking will keep you from brushing snow off your vehicle, but it is also a helpful cold weather car battery care measure. Thanks to the heat from the house, attached garages automatically keep vehicles much warmer than the outside. While they won’t be as effective as attached garages, unattached covered parking can still make a difference. Even if the covered space is simply a roof, the heat trapped in the surface during the day will keep the vehicle warmer, thereby sheltering the battery from the cold.
2. Turn Off Accessories
Low temperatures create a double-sided problem; your battery power is reduced and your engine needs more power to get started. If it’s getting tough for the engine to turn over in the morning, try turning off any devices drawing additional power, such as heaters, windshield wipers, and headlights. Once the car starts you can turn these back on.
3. Don’t Over-crank
If the engine won’t start and you’re getting frustrated, it’s tempting to crank until the car starts, but this is not a solution. Cranking the starter for more than a few seconds risks overheating it, which is a bigger problem than an worn-out battery. If it doesn’t catch, wait a few minutes and try again.
4. Don’t Let the Vehicle Sit
Most well-maintained vehicles can sit overnight in sub-zero temperatures without a problem. However, sitting for days or weeks, such as during a holiday vacation, can cause problems. Batteries inevitably self-discharge and cold weather makes this worse. If self-discharge is severe enough to deplete the battery, freezing temperatures can cause further damage by cracking the battery case and damaging connections.
5. Install a Cold Weather Car Battery
If your battery is more than three years old, it’s best to replace it before winter arrives. While you’re making a replacement, consider installing a battery that is made for the cold. Car batteries are not all the same and a battery with higher cold cranking amps (CCAs) will outperform other batteries in cold weather and won’t require the same level of cold weather car battery car.
6. Use a Battery Charger
A battery charger, also known as a battery tender, is one of the best cold weather car battery care measures you can take. However this requires access to a plug, which might be tough to find outside of a garage. If you’re storing your vehicle for a long period of time, a battery charger is an ideal solution.
7. Check for Corrosion
Corrosion around battery cables and clamps will obstruct electricity flow, which can be a big problem with your engine demanding so much and your battery working from a lowered power state. Ask your mechanic to check your battery and clean it if necessary.
8. Use The Right Oil
Motor oil is formulated with two viscosity measures for temperature extremes (for example, 10W-40 has a viscosity rating of 10 in cold temperatures and 40 in hot temperatures). An oil with a lower winter viscosity rating will flow more easily when temperatures drop, putting less stress on the engine and, therefore, the battery. Consult with an expert if you change your oil this way, as the wrong oil could be problematic for your vehicle.
If you’ve taken precautions and your battery still has problems, it may simply need replacement. If you’ve replaced the battery and encountered more problems, there might be a bigger issue, such as a problem with the alternator. If you’re new to cold weather car battery care or you need a replacement battery, contact us today and we can help.