Battery Check-up: Keep the Power Flowing In Cold Weather

Autumn means the return of pumpkin-spiced coffee and frightful corn mazes. It’s also a scary time for your vehicle’s battery.

The root of fall and winter battery problems can be traced to hot summer months How do make sure your battery is strong enough to get through the winter driving season?

Battery experts suggest a vehicle’s charging system should be checked every three months or every oil change. Batteries that are more than three years old should be tested more frequently.

Though it may seem like they go dead overnight, batteries give subtle cues that they are fading. For example, dimming headlights are a sign of battery trouble. So are engine starting issues or power windows that operate slower than they usual.

Helpful tips for maintaining battery life this winter:

  • Always get the battery checked before taking a long road trip. Have a professional mechanic inspect battery cables, posts and fasteners. Cables should have no fraying and must be secured firmly to the battery.
  • Corrosion kills. Look for corrosion on the cables or terminals, which reduces power from flowing from the battery.
  • Get battery terminals cleaned, especially if they have any buildup of crust. Accumulated corrosion shortens a battery’s life.
  • Make sure replacement batteries meet or exceed manufacturer recommendations for your specific vehicle. Battery ratings and size are particularly important to assure enough power for harsh weather conditions.
  • Batteries generally give warnings that they are going to die. Windows that take longer to roll up and down, weaker headlight beams and difficulty starting the engine are all signs that your battery might be on its last legs.