With the cold weather upon us and the Christmas season fast approaching, this is the ideal time for many to head off to warmer climates for some rest and relaxation. The combination of cold weather and a car battery that is not being used could result in coming home to a dead battery. There are a few things that you can do to prevent this so that your first day back isn’t filled with the stress of getting the car started and getting the kids to school and yourself to work.
Why batteries don’t like the cold
It’s not just the cold weather they don’t like, the heat can be just as damaging. In fact, any temperature extremes are detrimental to batteries. Batteries will naturally self-discharge over time and if you are not recharging it by running the engine this could lead to a dead battery over time.
How you can keep your battery healthy
There are a few things that you can do to help keep you battery in good condition and therefore more likely to survive a cold, quiet period unscathed.
- If you have a garage, you’re off to a good start. Keeping the car in storage will keep it away from temperature extremes which batteries hate
- If you’re planning to be away for more than a couple of weeks, then disconnecting and bringing your battery indoors is the next best thing to keeping your car in a garage
- If you have a friend or neighbour you trust, ask them if they will turn the engine over once a week. By keeping it running for around ten minutes it will help, although actually driving it is more effective than keeping it idling
- Check your electrolyte levels and how strong the solution is. If the levels are low or the solution is weak then it will not be charging efficiently or keeping that charge for as long as it should
- Check and double check that there isn’t anything on in the car that could be draining your battery slowly. Obvious things such as headlights and interior lights are unlikely to be missed, but others may not be as easy to see. It’s possible to check this at home using a test light and using trial and error to find anything that may be on and affecting your battery, but unless you have done this before it’s probably best to get a specialist to help you out. You need to be sure that you’re using the right equipment for your battery or you could risk causing more damage than you’re trying to avoid!
- If you’re off for a long period of time you could use a float charger. This will monitor the voltage level of your battery and charge it up when it drops below a certain level. If you opt for this solution, do get someone to keep an eye on it for you once in a while to make sure that the float charger is coming on and off as it should; if it malfunctions and doesn’t switch off for any reason it could damage your battery. A good battery charger is cheaper than a new battery so it’s worth investing in if you are likely to be away or need to store the car for long periods of time during the winter months