A car battery loses a third of its power in freezing weather. 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.
Make sure your battery and charging system are up to par
A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. Have your battery and charging system checked for optimum performance – particularly if your battery is more than three years old. Also, clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections; wipe away dirt and oil deposits on the case and make sure all hardware is secure.
Warning Signs Your Battery is Failing
- Your car doesn’t start immediately, or makes a clicking noise when you turn the key.
- Your headlights or interior lights are dim
Here are a few quick tips on how to avoid that moment when you turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens.
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.
- If you plan on not using your car for an extensive period of time during snow season, it is important to turn it on every 6-12 hours and let it run idle for 15-20 minutes so that it reaches operating temperatures. This provides current to the battery, allowing it to regain its charge.
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.
In many areas, AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and replace it on-site, if necessary. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities also test and replace batteries. Nearby locations can be found at AAA.com/autorepair.
AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas. Find additional news from AAA Texas in our online newsroom at http://tx-aaa.iprsoftware.com/.