Winter and your car battery

By Liberty Insurance Ireland on 12 January 2016
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You might love winter, but your car battery doesn’t. Here’s how to look after it and keep it from stalling during the colder months; brought to you by our friends at motorparts.ie

How to maintain your car battery this winter.

Invest in a good battery charger. It will end up saving you money and hassle in the long term!

You know the scenario… early morning and it’s dark, cold and wet outside. You wrap up, put the head down and run to the car. Safely ensconced, you put the key in and turn… nothing! You go again. There’s a brief spark of life but after some spluttering, the car returns to its vegetated state. Looks like you’re going to be late for work.

Winter is not your car battery’s friend. Why? A car battery is essentially a chemically filled canister – the problem with batteries in the colder months is that the chemicals act slower when the temperature drops and subsequently fewer electrons are produced. Without these electrons the starter motor has less energy to get itself going!

But there are a number of ways to keep your battery in optimal shape and stop it from stalling.

Battery maintenance
  • First things first, get yourself some booster cables. You will use them at some stage, either on your battery or someone else’s. If you need to learn how to jump-start a battery, you can do that here.
  • Invest in a good battery charger. It will end up saving you money and hassle in the long term!
  • Keep it clean: especially around the terminals and cables (remove signs of corrosion, dirt and oxidation, etc.) You can use a screwdriver or pliers to scrape away any dirt. If the build-up of grime can’t be easily removed, bring the car to a mechanic and have them take care of it. 

Avoid short trips: the less you start the car, the less work the battery has to do.

  • Avoid short trips: the less you start the car, the less work the battery has to do. Of course, the battery does need to be started up from time to time to hold a charge, so try and do a number of errands in one go thus extending the car journey and minimising the number of start ups.
  • Disconnect: if you are going to be away for an extended period of time, or won’t be driving for a number of weeks, you can disconnect the battery. This will prevent things like the car’s clock from draining energy.
  • If your battery is in storage for some time, then a solar power panel is a good investment for keeping it charged.
  • Battery blanket: if there’s space around the battery you could insulate it. If the battery tends to be idle for any extended period of time, this is recommended.
  • Minimise use of accessories when starting car.
  • Heat it up: if you find yourself needing to jump-start your battery, you can reduce the stress on it by heating it up first. Stick the car in neutral and push it into the sunlight (yes, we know that’s not always option in this country!).

It is generally recommended that you replace the battery every 3-5 years.

Replace older batteries
  • A battery’s age is a key factor in how it holds up during the winter months. The older the battery, the more likely it is to seize up. It is generally recommended that you replace the battery every 3-5 years.
  • Some batteries are engraved with a 4 or 5-digit shipping date code. The first digit from the left is generally the most important. The letter stands for the month of the year (A = January; B = February etc). The second digit from the left is the year that the battery was shipped from the factory (0 = 2010, 1 = 2011, 2 = 2012 etc).
  • You can find a suitable battery for your vehicle here.

 

We hope these tips will help you stay safe on the road this winter. And don’t forget to check out motorparts.ie (or their Facebook or Twitter pages) if you need to pick up any spare parts this winter.

You can visit the Liberty Insurance Facebook and Twitter pages for tips on how to #drivesafer, or get a car insurance quote here.

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