Mills Garage LLC » Maintenance » Prepare for Snowpocalypse by Winterizing your Battery Before Cold Weather Arrives

Prepare for Snowpocalypse by Winterizing your Battery Before Cold Weather Arrives

While winterizing your car is a multi-faceted project, a large majority of cold-weather no-starts are cause by weak, old batteries, poor terminal connections, corroded cables, or a faulty charging system. Here are a few tips for winterizing your Honda, Toyota, or Subaru and testing your battery’s state of charge, checking your charging system, determining the age of your battery, and cleaning your battery terminals and cables.

Check your battery’s age
Another important detail to check is the age of your battery. A large majority of car batteries last for only four or five years, and it’s a good idea to make sure your battery still maintains the vitality of youth before that massive ice storm hits. To check the age of your battery, just check the date code on the label of your battery. The number of the date code will indicate the year in which your battery was manufactured, and the letter will indicate the month (“A” corresponds with January, “B” with February, and so on).

Clean cables and terminals
No matter how new your battery is, if you have corroded battery terminals or loose cables the juice flowing from the battery can’t get where it needs to go. It’s not always necessary to replace your cables, but it’s a good idea to at least check connections for corrosion and clean them up a bit to ensure a good contact between the cable and terminals. There are quite a few ways to rid your battery of corrosion, but the most common includes the use of brush-like terminal and post cleaner. You can also pour a small amount of Coca-Cola (or similar product) to literally dissolve corrosion and keep those connections sparkly clean.

Do a charge check-up
Once you’re certain that everything is kosher with the cables and terminals, it’s time to ensure that your battery is charged and charging properly. While batteries tend to be more forgiving in warmer climes, cold weather retards the flow of electrons and causes them to act up and die more quickly when colder weather sets in.  To avoid a no-start situation, it’s important to both make sure your battery is charged and to ensure that your charging system is working properly.

  • Test the charge of your battery
    To test the charge of your battery, turn your vehicle’s ignition and accessories to the OFF position and connect a voltmeter to the battery terminals. If your battery is fully charged, the voltmeter should read at 12.6 volts. A battery that reads less than 12.4 volts should be recharged as soon as possible, as it is less than 75% charged. If your charging system is working properly, you can do this by simply starting the car and letting it run for a while, although if your battery isn’t fully charged, there’s likely something wrong with the alternator or charging system.
  • Test your charging system
    To check your charging system, turn your car OFF and examine the alternator belt to ensure that it’s tight (not too tight) and in good condition. With that done, turn your vehicle back ON and connect your voltmeter to the terminals to check the charging voltage. With the engine running, the meter should read from 14 to 14.5 volts. If the charging voltage reads less than 14 volts it’s a good indication there’s a problem with the charging system and a more extensive diagnosis (and possible maintenance) will be required to correct the problem.

Do you have questions about winterizing your car battery or maintenance of your, Honda, Toyota, Subaru, or vehicle of Asian make? Feel free to contact me via my contact page for a quote! Be sure to check back soon for more winterizing tips and tricks!

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