CAR CARE NEWS :: DECEMBER 2017

Watch for Battery Fatigue As Temps Drop During Winter

Batteries tend to die at inconvenient times and places--like an airport’s freezing long-term parking lot after a cross-country flight.

There are times when you just want to get home, and a dead battery is all that stands in the way.

Get yours tested to see if it’s ready for the cold.

“Problems created in extremely hot conditions manifest themselves when the weather turns cold,” said Jim McIlvaine of OPTIMA Batteries, known around the industry as OPTIMA Jim. “When it is cold there is lower chemical activity in the battery itself, which essentially makes a smaller box of energy.”

A battery loses half its charging power at freezing temperatures. Such a loss quickly puts a strain on the battery, and the rest of the vehicle’s charging system.

McIlvaine offered the following insight about battery performance and maintenance:

  • Inspect your vehicle’s charging system every three months or every oil change. Batteries that are more than three years old should be tested more frequently.
  • Always get the battery checked before taking a long road trip. Have a professional mechanic inspect battery cables, posts and fasteners. Cables should have no fraying and must be secured firmly to the battery. Also look for cable corrosion, which reduces power from flowing from the battery. Proper voltage maintenance is the key to long battery life and peak performance.
  • Make sure replacement batteries meet or exceed manufacturer recommendations for your specific vehicle. Battery ratings and size are particularly important to assure enough power for harsh weather conditions.
  • Store your vehicle inside during harsh weather or invest in a battery heater to prevent loss of power.