Your car battery is one of those things you rarely think about — that is, until you have to. If you’re being forced to think about your car battery, it probably means that there’s something wrong with it. There’s nothing worse than being stranded with a dead battery, especially in the dead of winter. The cold tends to wear down your car’s battery, meaning that you may find yourself in this predicament when you least expect it.
The only way to prevent this is by making sure that your battery stays charged. Now if you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking “how is anyone supposed to know that?” And believe me, I hear you. Up until recently, I was in the same boat.
The good news is that you can make sure that your car stays charged without having to really check the battery’s charge. Not to mention, you don’t have to speak car in order to know how to keep your car’s battery charged.
There are a few ways to do this, so make sure that you’re taking notes. And if you don’t have a pen and paper handy, don’t worry. I’ll wait.
Got your notebook handy? Great. Let’s get started! If you are the impatient type, here is an abridged list without an explanation. I would encourage you to continue reading, however.
9 Easy Ways to Keep A Car Battery Charged Through Winter
1. Get a Battery Charger
According to the good people over at Interstate Battery, keeping the battery charged is the most important thing you can do to maintain the health of your battery.
Unfortunately, your iPhone charger isn’t going to be of much use to your car’s battery. However, you can purchase a battery charger specifically for your car. You can purchase one of these at an auto parts store to have in your car.
During the winter months, you may want to charge your car battery a couple of times a week in order to keep it as juiced up as possible. You’re going to especially want to do it on nights where it will be colder than usual. These chargers don’t last forever, so you will have to replace them eventually. However, they should be able to last you until the end of winter.
NoCo makes an excellent trickle charger for just such a situation. It works on 6 volt and 12-volt batteries and its smart charging capabilities will ensure battery protection. You can find the NoCo Genius 5 at Amazon by clicking here.
2. Park Your Car Away From the Wind
Yes, this sounds confusing. You want to know how to keep battery charged in winter, not the direction in which you should park your car. But trust me, this has everything to do with it!
It’s safe to say that the temperature tends to drop significantly over night, which is caused not just from the absence of the sun but because of the wind too. You hear it howling through your window, so you know that it’s cold out.
As we mentioned earlier, the cold tends to make your battery lose its charge. Keeping it away from the direction of the wind is more likely to protect it. If you have a garage, park your car inside to completely protect your car’s battery. However, if you don’t, you can always make sure that it’s facing away from the wind by parking it close to a wall that will stop the wind.
3. Turn Your Car Accessories Off Before Leaving Your Car
I have a really bad habit of leaving my car’s radio on full blast when I exit my car. Not only does this scare the living daylight out of me the next time I get into my car, but I’m also unknowingly draining my car’s battery.
Leaving your AC or radio turned off after your exit your car isn’t great for your car battery because it means that every time you go to turn your ignition, energy from the battery goes to try to power on any accessories you left on the last time you drove. If it’s an especially cold day, this can drain your battery even more.
4. Keep Your Battery Squeaky Clean
Okay, maybe not squeaky clean, but you know what I mean. The cleaner you keep your battery, the less chance it has at giving out on you. Cold temperatures tend to cause the oil in your car to thicken as well as increasing the electrical resistance. Therefore, your battery has to work that much harder to start up.
If there is a buildup of dirt or grime on your battery, it will cause even more resistance. You may also want to check and make sure that there isn’t any corrosion on your battery, which could also affect your battery’s charge.
Cleaning your car battery is actually much easier than it sounds. All you need is water, a rag, and a little baking soda. Once you’ve wiped it down nice and clean, you should be ready to go.
5. Check Your Battery ASAP
As someone who procrastinates over everything, I can understand why most people don’t bother to get their car batteries checked until it’s too late. But hindsight is 20/20. Don’t be like me. Learn from my mistakes and get your battery checked before it starts to get cold.
Old and weak batteries don’t stand a chance in extremely cold conditions. Our friends over at Your RV Lifestyle even list this as one of the reasons that your car battery keeps dying.
It might be a pain in the tush for an afternoon, but your future self will thank you. If your battery needs replacing, it’s better to do it before the winter comes and corrodes it even more. Trust me on this one; it’s worth the trip to the mechanic.
If/ when you do need to replace your battery, make sure you have one that can handle the cold winter temperatures. There are many selections that are possible, check out my best car batteries for winter guide to find the one that is best for you.
6. Drive it as Often as Possible
With the weather being as frigid as it is, I can’t blame you for wanting to spend your evenings cozied up in front of your TV. But if you want to make sure that your battery stays running all throughout winter, I suggest that you put on your warmest coat and drive it for at least ten minutes a day.
Keeping your battery moving will reduce its chances of giving out halfway through the winter months. And what’s worse, having your car battery die unexpectedly in the middle of a snowstorm or driving it a few minutes a day around your neighborhood?
Now there are exceptions to this of course. If you are in the middle of a snowstorm or blizzard you don’t want to be driving to keep your battery charged. Please be mindful of road conditions.
7. Your Car Battery Needs a Blankie Too
You may actually think that I’m kidding but believe me, this is the real deal. Keeping your car battery wrapped up in a thermal blanket will absolutely protect it from the cold. These blankets prevent corrosion on your car battery and, as we mentioned before, corrosion causes your battery to work harder.
Believe it or not, your car battery may actually have a protective covering already. If it’s a fairly new car and you haven’t had your battery replaced since you purchased it, chances are that it’s still there. If not, no worries. You can easily purchase a corrosion-resistant heat blanket for your battery at most auto parts stores.
When a car battery is charged all the way, it won’t freeze until it gets to -76°F. If it’s lacking a charge, however, it will freeze at around 32°F. This is also a reminder to make sure that you always have jumper cables in your car in case of an emergency.
8. Jump Start it Every So Often
It might seem pointless to jump start your car when you don’t need to, but you may be saving yourself from any future car battery mishaps by doing this. Keeping your car battery charged as much as possible means that it won’t freeze as quickly in cold weather.
I touched on the importance of having jumper cables in your car earlier, but now we’re going to really get into it. Remember all the corrosion I’ve been going on about? Well, that corrosion combined with dirty or old jumper cables is not going to end well.
Before you go ahead and start trying to jump-start your car battery, make sure that you have cleaned off the jumper cable clamps. Try to clean up any dirt or grime that has built up around the battery as well. If both your battery and your jumper cables aren’t doing so well, it may be time to switch them both out, especially if you’ve got a bigger car.
I would recommend, rather than using jumper cables, having a battery booster pack instead. They are easy to use and more controlled than using a set of jumper cables.
How Can You Fix a Frozen Battery?
Now that you know how to prevent the cold from killing your car battery, what do you do when it’s too late? In short, there really isn’t much for you to do in this situation but purchase a new one. You probably won’t be happy about it, but it’s far less dangerous than trying to jump start a battery that is frozen.
When a car battery freezes, it begins to disassemble altogether. This will eventually cause cracks and icicles, and can even deform your battery. Because of this and the fact that water and electricity just simply don’t mix, you will have to purchase a new battery.
Be careful when handling your old battery. You don’t want to just dump it in a normal trash can. If you can, take it to a mechanic or an auto parts store where an expert can help you dispose of it.
As you can see, keeping your car’s battery charged during the winter is much more work than you expected it to be, isn’t it? It’s most certainly not what I was expecting, at least. But at least now you know the proper way to take care of it and can hopefully save yourself some grief.