With winter arriving shortly, it's best to ensure ahead of time that your car battery
is able to last the winter. The last thing you want in this season - or any season for that matter - is to find out you have a dead battery when you try to start your car and it won't turn over. Here are some tips to ensure that you and your vehicle's battery are ready for the winter.
1. Get your battery checked: The next time you have your vehicle serviced (i.e. oil change) ask the garage to check your battery level. Surprisingly, a car battery is considered flat when it still has 12 volts left even though a fully charged battery usually holds around 12.6 volts. The thing is that your car battery obviously doesn't have a gauge on it to quickly tell you how much juice is left in it. In that regard, ask your service center to tell you in the fall if your battery will last the winter.
2. Get a good quality battery charger: Consider getting a decent battery charger/tester so you can not only monitor the level of your battery but also recharge it if necessary. The last thing you want is a dead battery in the dead of winter so this device can help to prevent this situation from occurring.
3. Avoid draining your battery: Winters already sap your battery strength with significant use of the car heater, defroster, windscreen wipers and lights, not to mention the extra work involved with cold engine starts in the morning which requires the battery to work harder. Don't leave devices like PDAs, laptops, video games, etc plugged in over night and better yet, avoid charging these devices in your vehicle at all.
4. Avoid overusing your electrical components: Don't leave any electrical devices running longer than you have to. Turn your heater off/down when you can and don't leave them running at full blast. Turn off the defroster after it's cleaned your windshield rather than leaving it running.
5. Monitor the age of your battery: Car batteries can last around 5 years give or take, and depending on your local weather conditions and climate, battery brand, etc. If your battery is getting close to the 5 year range be careful with pushing it too far and risking a dead battery. If you happen to notice dim headlights, slow-moving windshield wipers or other electrical components misbehaving it could be a sign that your battery is on its last legs.
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