How to prevent a dead battery in cold weather

Ask your local car repair shop for a free battery test to determine if it’s ready for winter. Be sure to drive at least 10 minutes per day when the temperatures are low to keep the battery charged up.

Living in the southern Red River Valley and experiencing our frigid winters, we’re familiar with the theory that car batteries don’t like the cold. We rely on our batteries to keep us moving and get us to the family gathering, the evening out with friends or just to and from work. The colder it gets, the weaker batteries are.

It’s never good when you need to get somewhere only to find your car won’t start due to a dead battery.

If your battery is only half charged, it can freeze solid at just -10 degrees.

Experts agree that it’s important to get your battery checked before the deep freeze sets in. Drive to your nearest repair shop and ask for a battery test. They should be able to tell you about any weakness in your battery and even what temperature will kill it.

During winter, be sure to drive your vehicle for 10 minutes or longer. It’s not enough to just start it and run it — your engine warms the battery when you drive. Each day, drive the length of your commute, even on your day off. If your drive to work is short, you may want to drive around town a bit to be sure the battery gets fully charged up before parking it.

The moment your start-up seems slow, get to a repair shop – it’s an early sign your battery is going to die.

If you can, park your car in a garage. Think of parking garages with lots of come and go traffic, parking near heated equipment, close to warm buildings, in spots with lots of direct sunlight and anywhere that can be warmer than shaded, bare outdoor weather.

A fully charged battery can resist incredibly cold temperatures, but the strength disappears if your battery runs down enough.

Another option is using a thermal blanket on your battery. They may be called battery warmers, insulators, electric battery blankets or thermal wraps, but they’re all a corrosion-resistant heat blanket for your battery. You can find them at retail stores or online.

Experts warn to not trash the protective battery coating that comes on a new battery. It’s a fiber-wrap mesh or maybe a plastic cover that helps your battery.

Trickle chargers can help but when the temperature drops to freezing, they may not keep the battery alive. Batteries just aren’t as efficient in cold temperatures, whether they’re accepting a charge or starting an engine. That’s when cold cranking amps come into play — the ratings on the battery say how much power they should give when it’s below freezing.

If you suspect your battery is frozen, it’s done. Don’t try to crank or jump-start it if it shows bulges, cracks, icicles, or there’s frost on the terminals or plastic case.

To sum it up — fully charged batteries resist the cold better than weak, half-spent batteries. Remember to drive for at least 10 minutes a day when the temperatures drop, and take your vehicle to a shop to get the battery tested so you’re ready for winter.

Information courtesy InterstateBatteries.com

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