How To Maintain Your Car Battery In The Winter

Your car battery isn't as trouble-free as you might think, especially in the winter. Batteries by nature perform poorly in cold weather if not properly maintained. In the winter time you have to regularly maintain the equilibrium of your battery with a trickle charger or maintainer. 


Did you know your battery can withstand temperatures of up to Minus 70 degrees celsius. This means you can leave them outside in freezing cold weather, so actually in our industry we say the colder the better. The reason we say this is because if they're really cold they won't self-discharge. 


Please keep in mind before leaving your battery out in freezing weather you want to be absolutely sure that they're fully charged and the only way of doing that is with a battery hydrometer

This is important because the electrolyte of a drained battery might reach freezing temperatures and fracture the internals (and sometimes the case itself). But if you maintain your batteries correctly, you won’t have to worry about this.


Invest In The Right Tools

There are tons of battery chargers and maintainers that are less expensive than purchasing a new battery each year.  Owning a smart charger or battery tender is an investment that will pay for itself.


Inside the housing of a smart charger you will find special circuitry that cycles on and off to maintain the battery's level without overcharging. They are ideal for any form of lengthy vehicle storage, including winter hibernation. 


On some vehicles like my wife’s car the battery goes dead after 4 weeks as the computer and excessive sensors drain the battery!!!

It’s a real pain especially because she doesn’t drive it long enough to recharge the battery completely so we keep a maintainer on it all the time.


We recommend the 900mah Enerwatt Smart Charger, we use this same exact charger on our personal vehicles and toys. 


Battery Testing Tools

Inspect Your Battery 

Examine your battery's terminals and cables, remove any corrosion, and replace any damaged components before joining the leads. 



Applying some dielectric grease now will help stop additional corrosion. Then, it's just a matter of attaching the accompanying alligator clips; red for positive and black for negative. 

Make sure there is no light on if you can't run the cables without leaving the trunk or hood open. If there is, remove the bulb to lessen the drain and prevent early burnout.


Charge and Put To The Test

The tender may initially operate in charge mode for up to a few days before switching to storage mode, which is typically indicated by a light on the tender. If it doesn't, or if you are unsure that the charger is functioning properly, you can check the level of charge with a multimeter that is set to voltage; just unplug the charger before testing. Any lower after the initial charge up and there could be an issue with the battery or the charger. A standard tender would charge a 12-volt battery to 14.4 volts and let it go no lower than 12.6.




Alternate Options

Even if the battery is removed and kept inside, where it's (hopefully) not cold, it will still discharge over time. If you decide to take the battery out and charge it, keep the charger in the garage since charging releases hydrogen gas, which poses a fire risk. However, you can omit the wooden block between the battery and concrete floor because current plastic casings eliminate the possibility of discharge being caused by the damp floor.

Also remember to make sure you top your batteries up with distilled water, add water just above the plates. Don't add acid, just add distilled water. 

By heeding this advice, you may extend the life of your battery and ultimately save money and hassle. 

For emergency situations be sure to have a booster pack / jump starter to ensure you don't get stranded in the cold from a dead battery.