According to AAA, a car battery loses a third of its power in freezing weather. As the air outside cools, the oil in your car thickens. Parts move slower and your battery must use more power to turn over and start the engine.
The onset of extremely cold temperatures increases the need to make sure your vehicle’s battery is in good working condition.
Make sure your battery and charging system are up to par
A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. Have your battery and charging system checked for optimum performance – particularly if your battery is more than three years old. Also, clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections; wipe away dirt and oil deposits on the case and make sure all hardware is secure.
Warning Signs Your Battery is Failing
- Your car doesn’t start immediately or makes a clicking noise when you turn the key.
- Your headlights or interior lights are dim.
Here are a few quick tips on how to avoid that moment when you try to start your car and nothing happens.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Park your car in a garage whenever possible. The less frigid the air is around your car, the better for your battery. If you live in an area with temperatures frequently below freezing, consider buying an engine heater to reduce the power the battery needs to start your car.
- Turn off your lights, wipers and heater before you turn off your engine at the end of a drive to prevent an unnecessary drain on the battery the next time you start your car.
- Unplug phone chargers and USB cables for electronic devices as soon as you turn off your engine (for the same reason as #2).
- Avoid using your car’s heater longer than you need to; the heater puts extra strain on your battery.
- If you see corrosion on your battery, clean it or have it cleaned by a trained technician.
- If you consistently go two weeks or longer without using your car during the winter, invest in a battery tender to keep the battery charged.
- If you plan on not using your car for an extended period of time during snow season, it is important to turn it on every 6-12 hours and let it run idle for 15-20 minutes so that it reaches operating temperatures. This provides current to the battery, allowing it to regain its charge.
One last thing: keep a heavy blanket in your trunk during winter. If you ever break down and can’t use your heater in freezing weather, you’ll need it to keep warm until help arrives.