The wintertime can be a great time to get out and hit the road. From getting your holiday shopping done, attending your favorite seasonal celebrations or enjoying one last road trip before the start of the new year, there is plenty to do and people to see during winter.
Before taking any extended drive, making sure your vehicle is prepared is vital to help you have a safe trip. Being up-to-date on your vehicle’s maintenance schedule is one of the best ways to ensure your vehicle is ready for the road ahead, but it can’t prevent every possible issue.
One of the most common issues drivers face during the winter months is a dead car battery.
How Do I Know When to Replace My Car Battery?
With temperatures dropping across the country, most car owners can expect their car battery to lose anywhere from 35% to 60% of their strength, depending on where you’re in the country you are located. Unlike more traditional batteries, such as those found in your TV remote or gaming controller, your car battery won’t be as easy to recognize the signs of a failing battery. Even more crucial is recognizing the symptoms of a dead battery vs. a dead alternator, as both will have similar symptoms.
To help you differentiate between the two, be sure to look out for some of the common signs of a dead battery compared to those of a dead alternator. These include:
Signs of a Dead Battery
- Headlights and radio work, but the engine won’t start.
- The engine will start but will then immediately die.
- An odd smell is coming from the battery.
- The battery looks visibly damaged or swollen.
- The check engine light flashes on.
Signs of a Dead Alternator
- Dim or overly bright lights.
- Flickering or blinking lights.
- Slow or decreased performance from accessories, such as radios, infotainment or GPS systems.
- The battery warning light on the dashboard turns on.
What Can Drain My Car Battery?
Harsh weather conditions can increase your chances of experiencing an unexpected breakdown or another failure, especially if your vehicle hasn’t been properly maintained. How you store your vehicle during the fall and winter months will also impact how fast your battery can drain. In fact, if two identical cars have the same battery installed at the same time, the car that is regularly parked outside will see its battery drained more quickly than one stored in a garage.
While keeping your vehicle in a garage is not always a viable solution, there are ways that you can protect your battery during the winter months. You also have the option to get your battery tested at popular retailers for free to determine whether or not it’s a quick fix or a more significant issue.
5 Ways to Keep Your Car Battery From Dying
To help you ensure your car’s battery stays running throughout the cold weather of winter, be sure to follow these easy tips:
1. Disconnect Your Battery
If you plan on not driving your vehicle for a few days (or months), disconnect your battery and bring it into your garage or basement to keep it in a more climate-controlled area. If this is too cumbersome for you, there are battery blankets and battery warmers that you can purchase that help insulate your battery. These do a great job of holding in heat and protecting your battery from extreme temperature differences.
2. Drive More Often
Believe it or not, but a little-known fact about car batteries is that shorter trips can decrease the life expectancy of your battery. This is due to the fact that your car’s battery is actually getting electricity from your alternator while you are driving. Shorter trips won’t allow adequate time for your battery to receive a sufficient charge, thus killing your battery quicker than those who take longer trips.
To keep your battery running as long as possible, try taking longer trips or driving more often. This can be as simple as taking the scenic route to work, visiting your favorite coffee shop across town instead of the one down the block, or visiting friends more often. Keeping your battery charged by driving your car for more extended periods is a great way to increase life expectancy.
3. Keep Your Battery Clean
Due to the electrical components of your battery, your vehicle’s battery can become dirty over time, even in the cleanest of engine bays. Properly cleaning your battery can be done in a few easy steps.
First, start with the battery terminals. Check these a few times each month during the fall and winter for any corrosion. Automotive battery terminals will often get corrosion build-up that you must clean off with a wire brush. This corrosion can lead to decreased performance, damage of components, and harmful chemicals that could damage other under-hood parts.
Most car batteries are filled with a solution known as “battery acid,” being on the lookout for any leaks is also vital. This acid can leak over time, causing the acidic liquid to ooze from the battery. If you notice acid leaking in your battery, you’ll want to change it as soon as possible as failing to do so could leave your battery or other underhood components permanently damaged.
4. Invest in a Battery Charger
A car battery has to be charged to provide the starting power needed to start your vehicle. The electricity that charges your battery comes from your alternator when your vehicle is running. If your vehicle sits for extended periods, you will not have a charged battery the next time you go to start your car. With many modern advancements in the automotive field, charging your car battery is now easier than ever with a car battery charger.
This device can plug directly into a household outlet and hook up to your battery terminals to charge your battery. This can be done with the battery in or out of the car, making it a perfect way for charging your car battery in the cold temperatures of winter. You can even find portable battery chargers that you can keep in your vehicle if you accidentally leave your lights on or are having problems starting your vehicle.
5. Avoid Battery-Draining Habits
Forgetting to turn off your vehicle’s headlights or cabin lights is also one of the most common ways drivers can experience a dead battery during the winter or any time of the year. Even something as minor as sitting in an idling vehicle for too long using the heater or listening to music while the engine is off can increase the likelihood of experiencing a dead battery.
Maintenance Made Easy With EnduranceAdvantage™
With proper car maintenance, avoiding a dead car battery this winter is easier than ever. You can also save when it comes to protecting and maintaining your vehicle with the help of an EnduranceAdvantage auto protection plan and up to $3,500 in regular maintenance coverage. That means you can rest easy knowing you’ll have comprehensive breakdown protection and coverage for essential services such as tire rotations, alignment checks, engine diagnostic exams at more included — at no additional cost to you. Not only that, but each EnduranceAdvantage package also comes with several other special, one-time services, including up to $100 towards the replacement of a failed battery.*
New Endurance customers will also have access to other great perks and savings with one year of Elite Benefits. Included with the purchase of any Endurance protection plan and a small activation fee, you can get access to several other great perks such as 24/7 roadside assistance, up to two tire repairs or replacements, key fob replacements and more.
To learn more about how Endurance can help protect you and your vehicle any time of the year, give us a call directly at 866-918-1438 or request a free, no-obligation quote. You can also learn more DIY maintenance tips, get expert auto advice or find a variety of vehicle buyers guides and other informative articles by visiting our Learning Center.
*Must be beyond OEM’s specified tolerance, a one-time use per life of the contract.