It’s almost that time of year….Cold temperatures and warm fires, sweaters, hats, and gloves. Those rough mornings that we have to get up from our cozy, warm beds and go outside to get into our cold, cold cars. And then…click….click…the car battery is dead. Problems with car batteries are high on the annual lists of the top 10 most common breakdown faults. Not that they need to be. Thanks to newer technologies, modern car batteries provide much better cold starting performance and longer life than ever before. But, the danger is still real, and it happens to the best of us.
Heat is Tough on Car Batteries
Last month’s article was about how HEAT is a battery culprit, so we know that the summer months start the breakdown process. [When temps outside reach 90 degrees, the temperature under the hood of your car can reach 140 degrees, wreaking havoc on the battery. Each time the thermometer gets that high, your car’s battery fluid evaporates faster & corrosion accelerates too -- which can significantly shorten the battery’s life.] Heat and evaporation can weaken the car battery, and when the weather turns cold, a weakened battery can’t deliver enough power to start a cold engine. Most of us who live down South, have car batteries that are made to withstand the heat and humidity, instead of the colder temperatures. So, what about the few days a year when we actually get freezing temps down here? How can we be sure to not get stranded with a dead battery?
Tips to Winterize your Car Battery
With service intervals increasing each year, most of us don’t pay much attention to our batteries, but expect it to start faultlessly in the winter. Here are a few tips to help increase those chances:
- Keep the car engine in good condition – Tune up and change the oil regularly throughout the year.
- Get a professional battery check – at your local auto shop to check your battery acid levels. Those hot summer months are known to evaporate the battery acid, and this task is not recommended for us to complete ourselves.
- Keep your battery clean – Dirty or moist surfaces may result in small but continuous leakage currents flowing from one terminal to the other, significantly reducing the battery’s cold starting capability.
- Watch for battery corrosion, and make sure the cables are tight.
- Drive the car regularly – if your car is a luxury that you don’t need to use on a daily basis, be sure not to let it sit for too without driving.
Aspirin can help…with your dead battery AND your headache
You get behind the wheel and you discover that your car’s battery has given up the ghost… what’s the best thing to do (other than getting a jump and heading to the nearest service station)? You just might be able to get your car to start again by dropping two aspirin into the battery. The aspirin’s acetylsalicylic acid will combine with the battery’s sulfuric acid and (hopefully) produce one last charge.