Why Do Car Batteries Die in the Cold?
It happens every year: the days get shorter, the nights get longer and we bundle up and prepare for the long, cold months ahead. When it comes to automotive issues, winter is sometimes an especially challenging time. When the mercury drops, it can wreak havoc on the complex systems and parts under the hood of your vehicle. If you drive a car, truck or SUV with a traditional internal combustion engine, the battery in your ride is particularly vulnerable in lower temperatures.
Most vehicle batteries are 12-volts, and they consist of six cells. Each cell houses two plates—one made of lead, the other of lead dioxide. The plates are submerged in sulfuric acid, which acts as a catalyst, causing a chemical reaction between the plates producing about two volts of energy per cell. With six cells, you get twelve volts of power.
Your battery may start acting up when the temperature drops, so check out these cold weather car battery care tips. The chemicals inside the battery move slower at lower temperatures, putting stress on the battery and making it difficult to provide sufficient starting power to your vehicle. If you park your vehicle outdoors, you may notice a significant decrease in battery power if the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if your battery is older than three years and you don’t plan on starting your vehicle for several days or weeks at a time.
Let’s face it: vehicle batteries are expensive, and the added stress of cold temperatures can shorten their lifespan. To prolong battery life and save cash, it’s a good idea to invest in a battery tender or trickle charger or disconnect and safely store your vehicle battery indoors. Car battery winter storage is also a great way to maintain the units of your favorite outdoor toys, such as boats, ATVs or UTVs. Let the experts at the NAPA Network help you save money and get the most out of your vehicle battery by safely disconnecting and storing it this winter.
Disconnecting a Car Battery for Storage
So, you decided to disconnect your car battery for storage this winter. Great idea! Troubleshooting battery problems in cold weather is a headache, but it can also lessen the overall life of your battery, costing you a lot of money in the long run. If you park your vehicle outdoors or in a garage with minimal insulation, it’s a good idea to remove and store the vehicle battery if you don’t plan on driving it more than once every two weeks during the winter.
First, you need to safely disconnect your vehicle’s battery. Before you begin, make sure you’re using safety goggles and insulated gloves. You’ll also need a wrench that fits the bolts of your battery—your owner’s manual should have this information available.
- Turn off your vehicle. Never attempt to disconnect your battery with the engine running.
- With the engine off, locate the terminals of your vehicle battery. They may have black and red caps on them, black for negative and red for positive. The negative terminal is labeled with a negative symbol and the positive terminal is labeled with a positive symbol.
- Remove the plastic caps and locate the negative terminal. Using the wrench, loosen the nut and bolt, then remove the connector cable from the terminal. Repeat this process with the positive terminal.
Now you’re ready to safely remove and store your battery!
The battery is a vital component of your vehicle, but it is also sometimes a volatile one. The chemicals that provide the crucial reaction that powers your vehicle and its systems are extremely caustic and dangerous. Neglecting proper car battery storage for winter can cause significant damage to your battery and anything nearby, so let NAPA Auto Parts help you plan for properly storing your battery.
Before you store it, take the time to carefully clean any corrosion off the battery terminals and out of the battery tray. Ideally, you should store your battery indoors in a dry, temperature-controlled area like a closet or utility pantry. Always store your battery in a battery storage box and keep it on a low shelf above the cold cement floors or carpets to avoid static discharges. If you’re storing your battery in an area with minimal temperature control like a garage or shed, equip the space with sturdy shelving to ensure the battery storage box stays level and away from any moisture that might collect on the ground. Never store a vehicle battery on a high shelf above your head. Make sure to routinely check the batteries while in storage to ensure no fluids are leaking and top off any fluids that have evaporated.
While some drivers want to disconnect and store their vehicle batteries, others may not have the time or a good space to store them. Fortunately, NAPA Auto Parts offers a great selection of battery maintainers, battery conditioners and trickle chargers. These low-profile devices not only charge and maintain your vehicle battery while not in use, but they also help break down any buildup of sulfur crystals on the plates.
Don’t let Old Man Winter’s plummeting temperatures send your battery to an early grave! Shop NAPA Auto Parts for car battery winter storage solutions. Now you can choose to stay out of the cold and take advantage of our Same-Day Delivery service. After you checkout online, select “Deliver From Store” and add your delivery address (must reside within 5 miles of the servicing NAPA Store). The store will notify you when your order is out for delivery, it’s that simple!
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More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.