Best Ways to Keep Car Battery Fully Charged in Winter

If your car battery tends to lose its charge, you may find yourself in an undesirable situation during winter. Thankfully, there’re steps you can take to keep it in shape when the temperatures plunge.

Car Battery

Ensure your Battery is Fully Charged for Wintertime

Let’s face it, winter can push your car battery over the edge and remember how frustrating it is when you start the car and hear those annoying clicks instead of turning on the engine.

A car battery loses about 30% of its power in cold months making it susceptible to failure. To keep it alive through the frigid winter, it needs proper care and maintenance.

If you don’t know how much battery juice is left in your car, you should check the electrical system – the lights, heaters, wipers, and other hi-tech features.

How-to Guide to Prepare Your Car Battery for Winter

Clean the battery terminals

During the winter season, corrosion can form on the battery terminals making them a poor conductor of electricity.

You should check for white or crusty residue that may be coating the terminals because it can interfere with the current flow.  To keep the battery fully charged, you should clean the terminals with a stiff wire brush.

Also, be sure to check the cables and fasteners to ensure they are in good shape. Keep in mind that even small traces of white residue could stop the battery from charging.

Sometimes, corrosion can interfere with the structure of the connections and if it’s a bit tough, you can use a baking soda to remove it. When this happens, you may have to replace the cable ends.

Don’t forget to apply petroleum jelly or grease to discourage further corrosion.

How to clean car battery terminals

How to Clean Car Battery Terminals

Are your Car Battery Terminals Clean for Charging?

Install a battery maintainer

While most car batteries are lead/acid, some have lithium-ion construction. When you start the car engine, the alternator pushes the charge back into the battery plates, and then the battery stores the charge.

What if you leave the car lights on and the battery is discharged?

This is where a battery maintainer comes in. It prevents any unnecessary depletion of the battery juice. This device also keeps the battery warm so it can charge during the cold weather easily.

Some car manufacturers also use innovative technology that allows the battery to go into `sleep mode’ when not in use.  If your car has a complex electrical system, a small discharge can be sufficient to discharge the battery completely.  You’re better off when you have a small gadget with electronic circuitry to control the charging.

How to Install a Battery Maintainer

Here's how to Install a Battery Maintainer

Consider the age of the battery

Most battery manufactures recommend that you replace the car battery every 4-5 years. So, before winter starts you should check the age of the battery.

What if the car is showing no signs of dying?

Well, you should take your car to the mechanic to perform the load test.  If you ignore this advice and your battery is struggling to start the engine, it’s only for a short time before it lets go. Why rely on roadside assistance when you can replace it at your convenience?

Some of the signs that your battery needs replacement include the car starting slowly and dimmer headlights.

You should also consider the battery CCA. It measures the power that it can deliver at a specific temperature for a certain period of time. Anything less than the recommended level guarantees unreliable performance.

It’s better to have the battery checked rather than find out when you have a busy schedule. If you don’t observe this guideline, you may want to have the jumper cables at hand for emergencies.

Check the water level

In some batteries, you can check the fluid level by removing the top cover. The general practice is to ensure the water level reaches the neck of the plastic fillers. If it’s below the recommended levels, you may want to add more water.

The proper fill level is approximately a quarter-inch below the fill well bottom.

Overfilling can cause electrolyte leak as the battery charges. Only use distilled water or proprietary fluids common in gas stations, accessory, shops, and garages.  Although it’s fairly easy to add water to each cell, people often get confused about which water to add.

By ensuring the electrolyte level of the battery is at the recommended level, you can be sure the battery will give optimum performance.

How to the Battery Water Level on a Car?

How to Check the Water Level on a Car Battery?

Here's how to check the Water Level on a Car Battery

Let the battery charge before you use the accessories

During a frosty day, it can be tempting to put on the heater immediately after you start the car- this is a bad idea. You should allow the alternator to charge the battery before you place any demands on it.

On a cold day, these accessories will drain the battery juice faster than you think.

Each time you turn the ignition, the power is sent to the various systems. Therefore, you should ensure you turn off all the accessories before you leave the car.

That way, you can be sure the battery won’t get bombarded by the huge demands when you start it again.  This is an important step in protecting the battery cranking power.

Even after the car starts, you should not overload it with accessories. Only use what is necessary to make the battery last longer.

Frequently asked questions

How do I keep the battery over winter?

You should remove the battery from your car and store it in a cool dry place. Be sure to charge it once a month to ensure it doesn’t discharge. If you have a garage, you may want to check the room temperature.

Does winter affect your car battery?

Yes. A battery loses most of its strength when the temperatures fall below 32 degrees F. In winter, your car engine may require twice as much power as needed under normal weather.

What happens if I don’t start my car during winter?

The battery can die. If you’re not using your car, it’s highly recommended that you run the car for a few minutes. This allows the alternator to charge the battery.

Should I disconnect the car battery overnight?

The battery won’t drain if you disconnect the positive lead. This is a bad practice if you assume the car is negative earth.

Final thoughts

The winter weather can sap the power of your car battery, so you must keep it fully charged. If you don’t know how much juice is left in your car battery, it could leave you stranded when the cold weather hits.

Be sure to follow the above tips and you’ll have no problem going through what the cold weather throws your way.

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