Can Cold Weather Kill A Car Battery?

Yes, cold weather can finally kill your car battery. But frigid temperatures aren’t entirely to blame. Excessive summer heat does most of the damage. As temperatures drop (and we go into winter), an already failing battery can lose power and eventually fail to start your car. Let’s look at how cold weather affects a car battery, how you can get the most out of your battery, and what to look for the next time you need to replace yours.

Les Schwab carries batteries for everything you drive, including cars, boats, tractors, and specialty equipment. Find the right battery for your vehicle.

Ways Winter Weather Impacts Your Battery

Your car battery works hard all year long, whether you drive a gas-powered or electric vehicle. While it is the summer heat that reduces the lifespan of even the toughest battery, winter weather is the nail in the coffin. After several hot summers, most vehicles have a harder time starting or turning on when temperatures drop. Here’s what can happen to your car battery as winter settles over your region.

Reduced performance

Freezing temperatures can further drain your battery by up to 50% or more. That’s a lot of power loss and a drastic reduction in performance. Add to that a slowing of the electrochemical reaction due to the cold weather, and you’ll either barely start your car, or you’ll be left stranded.

Strained starts

The chemical reactions that happen in a battery are slower in the cold weather. On top of that, the fluids in a gas-powered vehicle become thicker as temperatures drop, requiring more power to move the motor oil as well as crank the engine.

Minimized lifespan

If your battery is old, has seen too many hot summers, or simply isn’t able to hold a charge, it will likely not fare well in colder temperatures. As power cells in a battery struggle to regenerate while your vehicle is on, the story often ends with a dead or severely drained battery.

How to Protect Your Car Battery in the Cold

Summer heat and sub-zero winter temperatures can affect the lifespan of your car battery. But there are ways to help protect your investment.

Car parked in a garage

Park in a garage (or under a cover)

Just keeping the snow, ice, and frost off your car can give your battery a much-needed break.

Test your battery

At least once a year, stop by Les Schwab for a free battery check. Our pros will tell you if your battery is fully charged and how many cold cranking amps it can provide (how long it will likely start your car before dying). If your vehicle’s battery is over five years old, get it checked a couple of times per year.

Tighten and Clean the terminals

Battery terminals that are loose or corroded can drain or damage a battery on both gas-powered and EV vehicles. Every winter, clean the corrosion off the top of your battery and make sure the cables are tightly connected. To remove corrosion, use an old toothbrush and a 3-to-1 ratio of water and baking soda.

Try a trickle-charger

If you’re not going to be driving for a week or more, attach a trickle charger to your battery. These small units plug into a standard wall outlet and help keep your battery charged, even in the deepest winter.

Trickle charger for batteries

Go for a weekly drive

During extremely cold weather, take your car on a 15-minute drive once a week. This can help recharge a good battery.

Plug in your EV

If you’re facing extremely hot or cold weather, leave your EV plugged in overnight. This can help keep your 12-volt car battery from draining completely.

Best Car Batteries for Winter

You want a battery that won’t leave you stranded. At Les Schwab, we carry batteries for every type of vehicle out there, including those built for colder climates and other weather conditions.

Xtreme Power car battery
Xtreme Power Battery

This is a great choice for warm and cold climates and anything in between. Backed by our best, 7-year guarantee.

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Does Les Schwab Offer Car Battery Services?

Yes, Les Schwab offers free battery charging with no appointment necessary, free charging system inspections, and free battery checks.

Advantages of Battery Replacement with Les Schwab

When you buy a battery at Les Schwab, you’re getting more than service and support anywhere you go. You’re also getting our best battery value promise. That warranty keeps you in charge and covers your battery for years beyond industry standards, in most cases.

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