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What Is a Car Battery Heater?

A Hyundai parked in the snow, warming up for a morning drive.

Winter, for most parts of the country, means brutally low temperatures. You bundle up in the morning, drudge out to the car and start it early to let it warm up before you head to work. On the coldest of mornings, it’s more of a struggle for you and for the car, as it fights to turn the starter and get things going.

Maybe you’ve never heard of a car battery heater, but if you live in an area of the country that gets hit the hardest with winter weather, then it’s a tool you should consider having on hand. But what is it exactly, and do you really need one? Here are some details to help you decide if you should install one.

What Is It?

When temperatures drop really low, the liquid inside the battery is affected, slowing the process that produces electrical current. Battery warmers are basically a wrap that you put around your battery and leave there during the winter months. They usually stick together on the en

Pickup truck in a snowy driveway

ds with Velcro and have an electrical plug you can insert into a normal household extension cord. By simply plugging in the heater and leaving it on your battery overnight, this low-heat pad keeps the cells inside the battery warm enough for proper function.


In most modern vehicles, the battery is inside a plastic battery box. Before buying a heater, be sure there is enough clearance not only for it to fit inside, but also for some air around it to keep it from damaging the plastic. You should also plan how you’re going to store the power cord when you drive the vehicle. You can wrap and unwrap it every time you want to use the heater, or you can route the wire down to the back of the vehicle’s bumper using zip ties to secure it. Regardless, once it’s in place, you can leave it there all winter and use it however you choose.

When to Use It

Generally speaking, nearly every day during the winter is a good time to use your car battery heater to ensure maximum performance. By leaving it plugged in whenever the car is parked, you’ll keep the battery warm enough to operate at optimal performance.

In the winter, cold temperatures can be a struggle for you as well as your vehicle’s ignition system. Installing a car battery heater is simple and will keep your battery operating properly regardless of the temperature outside. By routing the wire down to an accessible spot like the bumper — while keeping the wire away from moving parts — you can easily plug in your battery heater, so it’s ready to go the next time you need to start the vehicle.

Check out all of the batteries available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car battery heaters, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Erich Reichert View All

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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