Winter-proof your battery in 5 easy steps

Winter freezes the bones and immobilises the body. Likewise, it can be a killjoy for your car battery, leaving you stranded or running late for work. Low temperatures slow down the chemical reactions in batteries. This insufficient supply of electric current is what causes batteries to act up on those cold winter mornings.

South African winters are quite mild compared to those in the Northern hemisphere, but sub-zero temperatures aren’t unheard of. Low temperatures force your battery to work overtime to get the engine all fired up. There’s not much you can do about the weather, but there’s lots you can do to winter-proof your battery. Here are 5 tips to keep it charged up all winter long.

  1. Know where you stand
    The battery specialists recommend changing your battery every three years, depending on your driving habits. Before winter is in full swing, treat your battery to a free battery check. You can also get a starting and charging system check at your nearest Battery Centre. A fully charged battery minimises starting problems – all it takes is 30 minutes of driving to recharge your battery.
  2. Turn up the heat
    Park your car in a garage overnight or invest in a car cover to shelter it from cold winds. A battery heater and plug-in engine warmer can also be used to avoid power loss and morning start-up problems.
  3. Have patience
    Don’t expect magic on the first turn. If your car won’t start after 15-20 seconds, give it a rest for two minutes before trying again.
    Make sure there is sufficient starting power for your engine by keeping all electronics, such as your radio, lights and air conditioning off until after you have started your car.
  4. Clean up unwanted resistance
    A car battery is not just a pure voltage source but also possesses internal resistance. A battery with low internal resistance delivers high current on demand but various factors can contribute to increased electrical resistance that can cause the battery to work much harder. One such factor is grime or corrosion on the battery terminals. Always check for corrosion – a white, ashy substance on the terminals – as it can lead to a poor connection and battery failure. Give your battery a good clean-up with a water and baking soda mixture and use a toothbrush to gently scrub away any corrosion.
  5. Be ever-ready
    Engine oil tends to thicken and flow slower in winter. Enhance the overall working condition of your car with a fresh oil change. Always keep a set of jumper cables close by or invest in a battery charger suitable to the specifications of your car. Importantly, get your battery tested twice a year by a trusted battery specialist who also checks the alternator, starter and charging system.

    Don’t let an aging battery catch you by surprise. With a little bit of attention, your battery will go the extra mile and get you where you need to go. For expert advice, visit Battery Centre, South Africa’s leading battery specialists in every season.