Car Batteries Can Be At Risk in Freezing Temperatures - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Car Batteries Can Be At Risk in Freezing Temperatures

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Cold weather can affect your vehicle and auto batteries are one of the engine components that see the highest risk.

Batteries are filled with fluid containing mostly water and can be susceptible to freezing when the battery is not fully charged.  Cold weather also thickens engine oil, forcing the battery to work harder when starting the car. Car batteries can lose 35 percent of their efficiency when the temperature dips below freezing. That percentage can spike to nearly 60 percent when the temperature falls below zero.

"Motorists should have their battery checked when they learn of an incoming wave of cold weather," said Interstate Batteries engineering services manager Gale Kimbrough.

Kimbrough said, "A fully charged battery is the best defense against cold weather and vehicle non-starts. In cold weather, engines require more cranking amps and batteries are less efficient, reducing their charge acceptance and ability to start an engine."

Interstate Batteries recommends taking special precautions with your vehicle battery this winter:

  1. Have the vehicle's starting and charging system tested every three months or every oil change.
  2. Use a battery charger to maintain charge levels and keep the battery in good condition. If the battery is more than three years old, have it tested more frequently to ensure it can survive the coldest winter months and/or replace it as a preventative measure.
  3. Have the battery tested before taking a long trip.
  4. Inspect the battery cables, posts and fasteners. Make sure the cables are in good shape and are secured firmly to the battery. Cable corrosion reduces power from flowing freely from the battery, reducing the power available to start the car. 
  5. Clean the battery terminals with a wire brush or battery cleaner spray.
  6. Choose the appropriate battery for the vehicle. It should be the correct size and ratings, especially for a vehicle that experiences extremely harsh winter conditions. 
  7. When possible, keep the vehicle in a garage overnight or plugged in, especially in areas with extremely harsh winter conditions. If garage storage is not possible, invest in a battery heater. 
  8. Avoid damage to the battery and keep connections tight. 
  9. If the battery is not a sealed model, check the fluid levels, using distilled water to fill any cells that appear low.
  10. When working with or around a battery, always wear protective eyewear, remove all jewelry and wear long sleeves to protect skin from an explosion of battery acid.

If your car has a lot of bells and whistles – such as electronic fuel injection systems, electric windows, sun roofs and audio systems – the battery should have more power to account of all the features. The best guarantee against failure when cold weather strikes is a battery with a high charge level and adequate cold cranking amps, 500-700, depending on the type of engine in your vehicle.

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