Car maintenance 101 | Keeping your battery alive during winter

Posted on: 18 August 2016

When it's winter time, nothing comes quite close to the disappointment felt when your vehicle fails to start. More often than not, the fault is a dead battery. The reason is pretty simple; the cold temperatures experienced are hard on your car batteries. The power output and recharge capabilities of the battery drop considerably in low temperatures. Furthermore, the load exerted is much higher since starting your car engine when it's cold requires a lot of power. It's also the time of year when the car heaters, blowers and wipers experience the most use, and they all exert a significant drain on your battery reserves. If you want to use your vehicle during winter, here are some tips to ensure your car battery doesn't fail.

Prepare accordingly

As winter approaches, start scrutinizing your battery. If it's more than four years old and has given you trouble in the past, replace it. Chances are that it won't last through winter anyway. Batteries don't always give warning signs before they fail. As long as it has seen more than four years of use, replace your battery, even if it's had a stellar record so far. Batteries get inefficient over time as the chemicals inside degrade, so opting to charge it regularly during winter still won't do. Even if your battery was acquired recently, take it to a local mechanic in order to perform a load test. The mechanic will then tell you whether or not it's likely to handle the cold temperatures.

Inspect your battery frequently

Inspect your battery frequently during winter to see how it's doing. Use a voltmeter regularly to ensure its voltage is acceptable. The value you get should always be 12.4 volts or higher. Use a battery charger or maintainer to keep it fully charged during winter just in case. Also check the connections to ensure they are clean and free of corrosion, since the corrosion will impair your battery's performance. Use a stiff brush to clean it, and apply dielectric grease to prevent further corrosion.

Reduce your battery's load

Go to great lengths to reduce the power demands on your battery, and it's sure to last the winter. Plan for the use of your car to eliminate short frequent trips. The constant restarting of your vehicle's engine is a huge drain on your power reserves, and the short trips mean the battery isn't charged sufficiently as you drive. Also, ensure every electrical system is turned off when you park your vehicle. Even little things such as boot-lights and interior lights can totally drain your battery if left on overnight.