How To Keep A Car Battery Charged In Winter

It’s that time of the year again. The duvets become our best friends, even the usually independent pups want to snuggle with you underneath the covers. It’s that time where you want to huddle in a heap in front of the fireplace, a large mug of hot chocolate steaming away and a book, or a comic book keeping you company as you stare at the sheets of snow forming right outside your window.

This is also the time when batteries lose a lot of their charge as a result of the cold weather. Sometimes starting your car in this weather can become a chore.

So, how to keep car battery charged in winter? By taking precautions. There are several reasons a battery will drain, but the weather is a big determinant in how well the battery operates. This is just a normal part of battery chemistry. Extreme temperatures will modify how your battery works and the cold will simply accelerate the rate of discharge.

However, this doesn’t mean there is no hope for your car’s battery. There actually is, you just need to be proactive about them. So, what are they?

4 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Battery During Winter

1. Shelter Your Car

Yes, your car may be an inanimate object that technically isn’t meant to be affected by the weather, but it actually is affected, especially the battery. Even though all the apps and the weather channel may give you a general temperature range, there is one factor they fail to account for.

The temperature may look okay for the vehicle to operate in, but there’s the small matter of this thing call wind chill. Whenever a current of air blows past anything, it causes that thing to lose temperature by convection. This causes the battery to lose up to 35 percent of charge when temperatures reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and if they continue to drop to say, zero degrees Fahrenheit, up to 60 percent of charge will be lost.

This will mean that a weak battery will fail, and even a battery in good condition will fail to crank an engine as more power will be required to crank it. To protect your car’s battery, park it inside your garage. If you don’t have one, at least make an effort to shelter it from the wind by using a car cover or other means. or you may want to check this article.

2. Get it Tested

All through the other seasons, your battery may have been operating with the efficiency of an atomic clock. If it did develop faults over that time, you wouldn’t have known, or probably other failures in parts associated with the battery could have kept you from discovering that issues have developed.

It is generally recommended that a vehicle owner should change the battery every three years. (This page shows the best car battery for cold weather).

Well, this is a generally ignored recommendation and you may have managed to squeeze five years of life out of yours. As already illustrated, winter is not particularly buddies with a car battery.

Rather than get up one day and find out that your car is just clicking at you as charge is depleted, find it out on your own terms. Before the winter sets in proper, get your battery tested at the nearest service center. If it is failing, get it replaced before you have to call a tow truck to come save your bacon while you’re freezing.

3. Dirt and Debris Be Gone

Extreme weather makes things act in different ways. Take for example copper wiring. In cold temperatures, it is taut, frigid even. Whenever the temperature rises, it slackens and occupies more space. This change in state with the weather also affects how electricity flows through it and other metals. In warmer temperatures, electricity flows more freely while the opposite is true for colder temperatures.

This is referred to as an increase in electrical resistance. What is simply means is the measure with which an object will resist the flow of electricity through it.

You already know that to start an engine, it requires great amounts to flow from the battery to the starter. When resistance increases, the amount of power flowing reduces. Therefore, greater power is needed to overcome this resistance.

At the same time, the colder temperatures also affects the oil in the engine. It will thicken, meaning it will become more resistance to anything sliding against it. More power will be needed to overcome this resistance.

When you go to crank over the engine, the battery will be facing resistance from two points and therefore more work will be needed to overcome them, meaning the battery will be drained more quickly.

These two aren’t much of a problem for a car battery. The most resistance comes from any dirt, grime and corrosion that will have built up on the battery terminals. Getting rid of this is as easy as taking out a toothbrush, baking soda + water or a bottle of Coke, and a damp cloth. Pour the coke or the baking soda solution over the terminals and scrub them until they’re sparkling clean.

You can dab petroleum jelly over the terminals to keep from corrosion forming over the terminals again.

4. Charge it

If you know your battery is in good condition, even after testing, then a loss of charge could simply be because of the weather. In this case, you will need to ask for help from your neighbors or other vehicle owners to help jump start your vehicle. (Uber can help that too!).

Or alternatively, you could in vest in some battery chargers to help maintain the integrity of the battery. It would be tempting to go for the cheapest one with the least functionality, but these could be dangerous for your battery. Overcharging will cause a battery to fail.

You will want one that can trickle charge the battery. You’ll also want to look for a charger that has several functionalities such as maintenance charge mode, a storage charge mode or a float charge mode. There are many different models out there but the best are made by Battery Tenders. These come with all the functionalities mentioned and many more features to keep your battery in excellent condition.

Sources:
1. Dead Car Battery? Cold Weather, Electronic Could Be Your Problem – Patch
2. How does the windchill factor work? – Science | HowStuffWorks