Did you know a car battery loses a third of its power in freezing weather? Why? Because as the air outside cools, the oil in your car thickens. Parts move slower and your battery has to use more power to turn over and start the engine.
If the temperature drops to zero or below, your battery has only HALF its power. Scary stuff, right?
Here are a few quick tips on how to avoid that moment when you turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens.
- Your car doesn’t start immediately, or makes a clicking noise when you turn the key or press the start button.
- Your headlights or interior lights are dimmer than normal, or the power windows are working slower than usual.
- You see stains or signs of corrosion on the battery itself.
- Your battery is more than three years old.
- You take a lot of short trips where the car is turned on and off often, or you have long stretches of time (weeks or months) where the car is not used at all.
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 devices like iPods as soon as you turn off your engine (for the same reason as #2)
- Avoid using your car’s heater longer than you have to; heaters put high demands 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.
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. That’s more of a life tip than a car tip.
The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. AAA does not guarantee any particular outcome.