How to Keep Your Car Battery Charged Through Winter

charging car battery
charlesonflickr, Flickr

Winter can be tough on your car, and there’s possibly no other thing under your hood as susceptible to the cold of winter as your battery. So what can you do to prevent from finding yourself stuck in your driveway, unable to turn your engine over on an icy day? Here are a few tips from the experts on how you can keep your car battery charged and fully dependable.

  • Replace it if it’s old. Your first step is prevention, which makes sense. If you’re headed into what will likely be a brutal winter and it’s been more than four years since the last time you had a new battery installed, don’t even bother trying to get it in shape. Simply replace it with a new battery.
  • If your battery is less than four years old and you’re thinking there’s still some life left in it, take it to a local auto mechanic and ask them to run what’s called a “load test.” This will give you an accurate idea as to whether or not your battery will be able to handle those especially frigid days and still do its job. Depending on how your battery performs under the load test, you may want to drop a new one in before the temps get too low.
  • Lift your hood (or trunk on some vehicles) and get up close and personal with your battery to check its health. You can do this with or without the help of an auto mechanic. Give your car battery a few pokes to make sure it’s not loose on top of its holding tray. When this happens, your battery runs the risk of losing longevity of life. In other words, they’re tough, but they’re not that tough – too much vibration can even drastically cut down on the length of your battery’s life. If it’s loose, tighten it down.
  • While you’re at it, check on your battery’s cable connections. You can touch your car battery cable connections without danger as long as your car is turned off and the key is out of the ignition (to be on the safe side). If the connections are loose, this can cause your battery to suddenly stop performing when you really need it to come through. Hint: you shouldn’t be able to move the ends of the cable where they’re attached to your battery. If you see this, use a tool to tighten the connection or take it to your auto mechanic to do it for you.
  • Take a look at the amount of buildup (if any) on your battery terminals where the cables are attached. If there’s excessive buildup of gunk, you can use a wire brush to remove it yourself. This ensures the connection between battery and cable is unobstructed, giving you more juice when you engage the battery.
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It’s never a bad idea to take your car into your local auto mechanic to have them give everything under the hood a once-over before winter kicks into full gear. This way, you can ensure that everything’s in tip-top shape, eliminating the risk or worry that you’ll find yourself stranded in a winter wonderland. Need to find a quality local mechanic? Check out Openbay and compare pricing and book service from quality local shops with the click of a button.