Cold temperatures affect batteries negatively (pun not intended). We've all been there. You sit on your stone slab of a seat in the dead of winter, insert the key and all we get is a click or a groan. The battery has been killed off overnight.
In truth, this is really a symptom of a progressive problem that has gone unchecked. Cold weather slows the chemical reaction in your battery, causing it to release less current. Eventually, your battery is defeated. But there are ways to lessen the likelihood of this happening.
Usually, a flat battery does not mean a dead battery. It can be brought back to life with a recharge, or a boost. Avoiding that day is time well spent following these guidelines:
- Store Your Vehicle Indoors: A garage, even an unheated one, will buffer the extreme cold and wind outside. Every little bit helps, and if it's heated...Lucky you.
- Plug-in: If you have to park outside, plug-in when the temperature dips sufficiently below freezing. This will do nothing to warm your battery, but will loosen the engine fluids, making for an easier turnover.
- Avoid Short Hops: Turning off and on with only short trips in-between won't give your alternator much chance to recharge your depleting battery - particularly in winter. Automobiles today are laden with a crazy list of electronic features that place increased stress on your battery's resources. If your journeys are consistently short, make a point of going out for a scenic ride - preferably at highway revs - at least once a week. That will help restore your charge.
- Clean It: Make sure you do not have any corrosion build up on the battery posts. If you do get a build-up, Wikihow has clear instructions as to how you can clean them.
- Wrap It: Insulating the battery can help against the ravages of sub-freezing temperatures. Check with your auto parts supplier for details on specifically designed insulators.
- Have a Charger On Hand: Try as you might to avoid a flat battery, there will be occasions when you miss the mark. When this happens at home, it pays to invest in a battery charger. Assuming your battery doesn't need to be replaced (will no longer hold a charge), this will get you back up and running.
- Keep Jumper Cables On Hand: When all else fails, and you are away from home, having jumper cables and a willing electron donor will save the day. Who knows, you might end up being someone else's guardian angel. Pay it forward.
A Word About Emergency Kits
Like any accident, the chance of a breakdown is remote - more for some than others. Regardless, stowing a kit in your truck is never wasted space. The Government of Canada recommendations are a great guideline.