Car battery care in extreme weather

Few things can be more frustrating than jumping into the driver’s seat on a frosty morning,
turning the key in the ignition and failing to hear the engine roar to life. Frigid weather
can cause trouble with a car’s battery. Some drivers do not understand why, but getting
the facts can help people avoid having to deal with dead batteries on cold winter days.
Cold temperatures wreak havoc on batteries because they slow the chemical reaction inside
of the battery. Batteries work by combining lead plates with lead dioxide and sulfuric
acid to create electrons. While batteries can function under myriad conditions, the cold
weather tends to degrade high-quality batteries and may render subpar batteries useless.
The cold weather can cause the fluid in the battery to freeze and lose function. A battery
that is frozen will not hold a charge, and, as a result, the car won’t start.
There are various ways to protect a battery from failure in the cold:
* Assess the age of your battery. If your battery is old, now may be the time to replace it.
Batteries differ in how long they last, but many last anywhere from five to 10 years. If your
car is still running on its original battery and is several years old, it may be a good idea to
get a new battery. Battery size will not necessarily provide better starting. It’s important to
buy the correct battery for the make of your car, which can usually be found inside of the
owner’s manual.
* Verify that there is no corrosion. Corrosion can prevent a car from starting just as
much as a worn-out battery. Corrosion is caused by a faulty connection that allows bat-
Car battery care in extreme weather
tery acid to escape and corrode surrounding areas. Regularly inspect the battery to keep
abreast of issues that may cause corrosion. Carefully clean away any corrosive residue that
has formed and make sure the battery is correctly seated.
* Install a battery blanket. A battery blanket is used to wrap around the battery and fit
inside of the battery cover. A cord with a plug runs from the blanket to a wall outlet. The
blanket can produce enough heat to keep the battery fluid from freezing. A trickle charger
can also be mounted on the battery. It will deliver enough power to the battery while the
car is off to keep it from freezing.
* Minimize the use of automotive accessories. Do not start the car with the heater and
the radio on. They can use up the power coming from the car’s alternator and prevent
the battery from charging. Do not leave the heat and the radio on while the car is idling.
Otherwise the car will not be putting out enough power for the alternator to charge the
battery and power the electrical systems.
* Disconnect the battery. If your car will be stored in a garage for the winter, disconnect
the battery. Certain devices, such as clocks and alarm systems, continue to drain battery
power when the vehicle is off. If your car will not be driven enough to recharge the battery,
keep it disconnected when the automobile is being stored.
Cold weather can sometimes wreak havoc on vehicles. Knowing how to skirt trouble
with your car’s battery can keep your car on the road throughout the winter. — Metro
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