With winter now in full swing, it’s now more important than ever to keep warm. Perhaps the worst thing about winter is the ice-cold mornings, which make getting out of bed increasingly difficult. But you’re not the only feeling the full effects of winter. Did you know your car’s battery feels the cold too? While you may be struggling to get out of bed in the morning a chilly winter morning is the most likely (and most inconvenient) time you could be left stranded with a flat battery. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of a flat battery. Here are 5 tips to help keep your car battery in tip-top shape during the cooler months.
Your battery feels the chill
As the weather gets colder, your vehicle’s battery’s ability to provide enough power to start and run the engine is reduced. Your engine also needs more power to start than under normal weather conditions which can cause battery failure.
“Batteries, just like us, like to keep warm, dry, and well-fueled during winter. Remember to take good care of your battery, test it regularly, especially going into the winter season to make sure that it’s in good condition. The process takes only a few minutes. Identifying a problem and then fitting a new battery could prevent you from finding yourself stranded and left in a potentially dangerous position,” says Shannon Drake of Midas.
With the recent lockdown regulations, many South Africans have left their cars unused for long periods, or have only been using our them for short trips to the shops for essentials, with quick starts and stops that prevent the battery from fully recharging. These are some of the primary reasons contributing to batteries being depleted and causing battery failure.
To help revive your battery or ensure it stays in good health and is ready to weather winter follow these 5 tips:
1. Keep your car sheltered
Ambient temperatures can kill your battery if they drop too low. The weaker your battery, the warmer it has to be to make sure you can start your car. Park your car in a garage if possible, invest in a car cover, park next to warm buildings, or at least try to park your car in a sheltered area facing east so that as the sun rises it will ever so slightly start warming up your car.
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2. Warm it up
It’s important to give your battery enough time to warm up in the early morning so make sure to turn on the ignition and let the alternator charge the battery before you turn on the radio, lights, air-con, or start driving the car.
3. Good maintenance is key!
Batteries need good and thorough maintenance to keep running. They should be maintained in a fully charged state by the vehicle’s charging system. Should you suspect that your battery is not functioning properly, then have it checked by a professional. If you need to have your battery replaced, they can assist you to select a battery that suits your lifestyle. A good option, for example, is the EFB (Enhanced flooded battery) which improves the performance necessary for stop start-vehicles.
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4. Keep charged at all times!
When charging your vehicle’s battery, make sure that your car is in a well-ventilated area and follow proper recharging schedules to prevent your vehicle’s battery from overcharging. If you are attempting to jump-start your vehicle make sure to read your vehicle’s manual, specifically the sections related to jump-starts of your car battery. Certain car manufactures do not recommend jump starting vehicles, while others require special instructions related to your specific model. Make sure to use the correct polarity connection when recharging and fitting and ensure that your battery is always clean and dry, with the terminals coated with the correct protectors.
5. Safety first, always!
Make sure your battery is always in good condition so you don’t get stranded in the dark on a quiet road, one of the easiest ways of doing this is to avoid leaving your car parked with accessories like the radio or lights switched on for extended periods. Remember not to lean over a battery when charging or testing and NEVER put metal objects on top of a battery.
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A battery is the heart of a vehicle, if it doesn’t start, your car won’t start either. Taking the time to check your battery often is worth the effort. Ideally, a battery should last between three and five years. However, climate, the demands you place on the battery, and your driving habits can impact your car’s battery life. Keeping an eye on the age of the battery and remembering to have it tested regularly as it gets older will keep you charged and on the road.