Tips to Keep Your Car Starting in Winter

As winter rolls in and temperatures start to fade with the daylight, car batteries start to feel the cold. Batteries that are not up to their full capacity, or close to failing, just won’t get your car started.

When it’s time to go to work or go home at the end of a long day (and have to drive in the dark, no less), a car that won’t start is the last thing you want. There are things you can do to prevent your car battery from failing when you really need it. Read on for information from AAMCO Minnesota on how you can make sure your car battery stays charged and ready to start your car, even when the Minnesota winter comes blasting in.

What Kills a Battery

The cold takes a toll on a battery’s charge because it drains the power more quickly than warm temperatures. There are three primary factors that come into play to drain your battery in the winter:

  1. Power output decreases because the cold slows the battery’s charge.
  2. The battery’s ability to accept a charge decreases, so it doesn’t recharge as quickly when you’re driving.
  3. The load on the battery increases in winter due to more use of lights, wipers, defoggers, and heaters.

Age of the Battery

The age of the battery obviously will affect its ability to start the car. If it’s older than five years and shows any signs of weakness, you should replace it as soon as possible. It will fail completely sooner than later, and probably somewhere and sometime you can least afford.

Things You Can Do to Help Your Battery

Image of a mechanic using a multi-meter to check the voltage of a car battery.Despite this trifecta of trouble for your battery, there are some things you can do to avoid problems. One simple thing you can yourself is check the clamps and connections to the battery to make sure they’re secure and clean of corrosion. If you decide to clean the connections yourself, wear gloves and eye protection to avoid contact with the corrosive residue you’ll have to brush off. Also, be aware that some modern cars have sensors connected to the battery, and certain computerized features might be disabled or scrambled if you disconnect the battery or alter any of its connections. If in doubt, consult your owner’s manual for proper handling.

Driving & Parking Habits Affect the Battery

If your driving habits entail mostly short trips, or you leave car sitting for days at a time, you should buy a good battery conditioner/charger. You can use this device to keep your battery primed when not in use, preventing it from losing any charge as it sits, even in sub-zero temperatures. It can be left connected indefinitely without overcharging the battery.

When you park your car, whether overnight or for a few days, make sure everything electrical in the car is turned off – lights, radio, heaters, etc. Turn off everything, because even a single light can kill your battery overnight in cold weather.

Be Nice to Your Battery at Startup

When starting your car cold, make sure everything electrical is turned off first. This reduces the load, or starting draw, on the battery. If you had everything running full blast when you last parked the car, and all those amenities are going to immediately jump on the battery for power at startup – all at the same time. Windshield defogger, rear window deicer, heater, blower fan, radio, seat heaters, interior lights, system lights and sounds… all asking for power, and the battery is going to struggle, if not just fail outright if it’s old.

Bring your car to AAMCO Minnesota for a complete Vehicle Courtesy Check. Check out some of our specials and coupons and make sure your battery, along with many other systems in your car, is in good condition to weather the winter safely and reliably.

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Our mission is to provide the best auto repair and maintenance in Minnesota. With 6 convenient locations and nearly 50 years in business, you can count on your locally-owned Minnesota AAMCO Center to provide expert transmission repair, brake service, tune-ups, oil and filter changes, electrical system repair, fluid service, and much more for your car, truck, or SUV.

Our comprehensive 36-step ProtectCheck® Inspection, expert technicians, and no-nonsense pay-only-for-what-you-need approach makes us the most trusted name in car care. Come see why people who know go to AAMCO.

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