Can a Car Battery Die in the Cold?

Why do batteries go bad in the winter? Cold temperatures can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s battery because they slow down the chemical reactions that must occur within the battery to provide continuous power. While batteries are capable of functioning in harsh conditions, cold weather will result in more rapid degradation and, in severe instances, could kill a battery altogether.

With this in mind, here are a few strategies you can use to avoid having a problem with a dead car battery this winter:

  • Consider the age of your battery: The longer you’ve had your battery, the more likely it is to be susceptible to the cold. Batteries will vary in how long they last—some have an expected lifespan of around five years, while others will be able to last as long as 10. If your vehicle is running on its original battery and you’ve had it for a number of years already, it can be a good preventative maintenance practice to get a new battery before winter arrives so you don’t have to worry about a potential breakdown during periods of extreme cold.
  • Install battery blankets: Battery blankets wrap around the battery and fit in the cover. Cords with plugs go from the blanket to an outlet, and the blanket provides some heat to both warm the battery and keep it insulated in cold weather. The heat is just enough to make sure the battery fluid does not freeze.
  • Use a trickle charger: Trickle chargers can be mounted on batteries to provide just enough power to the battery while the vehicle is shut off, which helps to keep it from freezing while it’s in storage.
  • Check the condition of the battery: In addition to knowing the age of your battery, you should also carefully analyze its condition. More specifically, you should check for signs of corrosion, which can prevent a vehicle from starting up. Corrosion in batteries is often a result of faulty connections that allow battery acid to leak. The acid is corrosive and can cause damage to the surrounding area. If you spot signs of corrosive residue, clean it away and make sure the battery is properly installed.
  • Avoid using certain accessories: Do not start up the vehicle with the heater and radio on—turn those elements off before you shut down your vehicle so there’s not as much stress on the battery at startup. Never leave the radio or heat on while idling the vehicle, because this could prevent the car from producing enough power for the alternator to keep the battery charged and the electrical systems running properly.
  • Disconnect in some circumstances: If you know you’re not going to be using a vehicle for the winter, disconnect the battery and store it away properly so you can keep the battery in good condition for the spring.

For more information about why car batteries go bad in the winter and how to prevent this issue from happening to you, contact the team at A2Z Complete Car Care today.

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