Hi, I'm Luis Johnson, an automobile technician, and power equipment professional. By profession, I'm a businessman and operate a car workshop. I have created this...Read more
What do you think is the most important? Your phone’s battery or your car’s battery? You probably answer the car battery but do we take proper care of our car batteries? Most people don’t. That’s why a major problem in winter is keeping the car battery charged.
You must follow some simple tricks to prevent your battery from dying in cold weather. Like doing regular battery checks, parking in the garage and away from the wind, keeping the battery charged properly, driving your car regularly, etc.
But it would help if you had more than these simple instructions to help you through this cold winter. So, we came to your rescue and wrote a full-on guide on how to keep car battery charged in winter. But first, let us explain why car batteries and winter are eternal enemies!
How Does Winter Affect Car Batteries?
Winter, specifically cold weather, can discharge your battery by slowing down the chemical reactions in the battery. As we know from chemistry 101, heat affects chemical reactions.
And you know that car batteries are just a piece of equipment undergoing chemical reactions that convert chemical energy to electrical energy; the cold winter or even the scorching heat affects the battery’s performance.
The battery could get overheated in very high temperatures and even go off with a boom! However, in cold temperatures, the chemical reaction gets so slowed down that the battery performance can decrease by up to 70%!
Although some modern batteries are not as affected by the outside temperature and more research is going on to improve automotive batteries, they are outside most people’s reach for day-to-day use.
So, you need to get involved and save your car batteries from this misery! Below is our 4 ways guide to help you keep your car battery charged in winter.
Top 4 Ways To Keep Your Car Battery From Dying In Cold Weather
The most important thing to remember here is that the main problem causing the agent is the cold outside temperature. So, we need ways to protect the battery from getting too cold. There are many methods to doing that, but we will briefly discuss the methods we prefer most.
1. Using A Battery Charger
Most people will park their cars in the garage for most of the winter. With snow on the road, it is very inconvenient to take your car out. However, parking inside the garage for this long a time will most definitely discharge the battery.
That’s why we advise that you use a battery charger for the battery. The charger is wired or clipped to the battery directly and plugged into an electric outlet. Hence, the charger will prevent cold weather from using up your battery’s chemical reactions.
Also, you can take out the car anytime you want if you are sure the car battery is fully charged. But there are mainly two types of car battery chargers: Trickle Chargers and Maintainers.
Maintainers Or Trickle Chargers?
|Provide a small amount of energy continually for as long as plugged in!||Provide quick electrical energy when the battery is discharged to prevent overcharging.|
|The charger does not understand how much charge the battery needs.||Know how much charge the battery needs and how much it has stored!|
|They are designed to be slow chargers to avoid overcharging the battery.||Designed with smart sensors to turn off when the battery is full!|
|Trickle chargers must be disconnected when the battery is fully charged.||Tender chargers or maintainers are designed to stay permanently plugged in with the battery.|
|Trickle chargers are old technology, so that they can be found cheap now.||Maintainers are used in almost all modern, good-quality vehicles. So, they are pricier than trickle chargers.|
We advise you to buy a maintainer charger because it does not ruin the battery’s health and performance over time. Rather it helps the battery to maintain proper charging and recharging capabilities.
2. Parking Inside or Underground
This is a common problem in cities. Most people do not have enough garage space, so they park their vehicles outside, under the sun. Although that should be perfectly fine in the summer, during the cold weather, this can have devastating effects on the car battery.
If you can park your vehicle inside a garage or underground in the winter, you should choose that option. Because no matter how costly parking gets, the safety of your car is more important. A sudden dead battery in freezing temperatures outside can be life-threatening for your car battery!
If this isn’t possible, at least ensure you park your vehicle with its front end away from the wind direction. Also, you can use a battery blanket if need be.
3. Regular Battery Maintenance and Checking
Little maintenance can greatly help you in the long run. Unlike smartphone batteries, car batteries do not have any way of showing battery levels unless you’re running very low on charge.
So you should be safer than sorry; We recommend you do regular battery checking and maintenance. These routines are very easy to follow, and you can check with simple tools like a multimeter that you can buy at any hardware store.
First, put your multimeter on the DC voltage settings. Then, connect the red wire to the positive of the car battery and the black to the negative. When the engine is off, the meter should show a reading of around 12.6 V. Watch this video from ChrisFix for an easier understanding.
The battery condition is poor if the readings vary greatly. Also, check when the engine is turned on. However, you should be safe while working with the car engine running and always put your safety wear before everything.
If you understand that the battery condition is very poor, you should call for professional help, check the battery, and repair it according to their suggestions. Otherwise, you’re good to go!
4. Driving Your Car Regularly
When the engine runs, the alternator charges the car battery. This is why most people never need to charge their car batteries.
However, in winter, cars are in storage. So, the cold weather and a long time of no usage cause self-discharge, which usually kills the car battery in the winter.
That’s why it is important to keep your engine running. Our recommendation would be to do at least drive the car 10 Km or more per week.
Because if you’re just idling the car or taking short trips, the battery life is being shortened as the alternator can’t fully recharge the battery! Learn more about alternators and batteries from this video from Donut Media!
The engine starter draws about 100 amps from the battery while idling your car for 15 minutes will only recharge about four amps! So, you do the math.
Some Symptoms Of A Bad Battery or Alternator that Puts Impact on the Charge of your Car Battery during Winter
It can be tough for most people to understand when to check the battery. If you have a bad battery in the summer, you will likely face bad consequences in winter.
So, you should know the symptoms of a bad battery or alternator. That way, you can clearly understand where to look if you face any issues and whether you need to replace the battery while changing the alternator when it turns bad.
- The battery light on the dash is turned on.
- The engine of your car is cranking slowly/ slow engine starts.
- Clicking when the engine is turned on.
- The electrical appliances in the car seem to run low on energy or don’t run at all.
- The interior lights or headlights seem weak.
- The car won’t start at all.
If you see any of these problems, either your battery or the alternator is facing some issues. So, try fixing it yourself or calling for professional help if you can’t handle it alone.
People take many approaches to keep their car batteries charged in the winter. However, from our experience, we found that most of these do not work, and the users usually have many common questions. So, we answered some of the commonly asked questions about this topic.
Can An Unattended Trickle Charger Damage The Battery?
If you leave your car battery with a trickle charger on for a very long time, the charger can cause overheating or boiling of the electrolyte in the battery.
This decreases your battery life a lot! So, be careful with a trickle charger or a battery maintainer charger.
What Temperature Can Drain The Car Battery?
Typically, temperatures below 32° F will drain 35% of your battery charge, and 0° F will drain 60% of your car battery charge. Some batteries will lose some power even before that.
Can I Charge My Car Battery By Revving The Engine?
Well, simple idling or revving will charge the battery, but you’ll likely lose more power than you gain.
So, we recommend driving your vehicles for at least 10 Km weekly. However, if that is not possible, use other methods like battery tenders, or trickle charging to charge the battery.
How Many Times Can A Car Battery Be Recharged?
A typical battery has 500 to 1000 recharging cycles. Meaning the battery can be charged and discharged about 500 to 1000 times.
However, cold or hot weather, poor maintenance, too many appliances, etc., can significantly affect the battery life.
As a car owner, you may feel like you’re racing with the cold to maintain your car properly! However, with some maintenance, you can be the Usain Bolt of the race!
We recommend that you keep your batteries clean, check for electrical leakages, recharge or drive your vehicle regularly, use a battery tender, and, most importantly, do not put an overload on your battery. Try to minimize the usage of electrical appliances with your car battery.
This will likely result in longer battery life, better performance, and easy life for you!