Prepare Your Car Battery for Winter

Gloved hands are attaching jumper cables to a car battery in the winter in Cincinnati, OH.

We see romantic imagery about cars all the time: from the starry night sky overhead when riding in a convertible, to the open road stretching toward the distant horizon before us, to a passenger using her hand to ride on the wind out an open side window. Proper car maintenance is rarely portrayed as romantic or sensual, but it is an absolutely vital part of owning and caring for a vehicle. Taking care of your car battery and other components is essential for enjoying all of that other stuff, especially as the days grow colder.

Proper care and maintenance of your car battery is particularly important here in Cincinnati with our rough winters and possibility of snow and ice on the road. Winter weather, especially when it gets really cold, is very hard on your car’s battery and can make a struggling battery finally give up, leaving you stranded at a time and place that you really don’t want to be stuck. Although it’s best to take care of your car battery and similar maintenance in the autumn, as the weather gets cooler but is not yet freezing, when it comes to caring for your car, it’s always better late than never.

Importance of Car Battery Maintenance

If the battery of your car doesn’t work, then your car won’t start – it’s as simple as that. Everything you want to do with your vehicle requires a functional battery. Even just turning on your headlights, the interior dome light, or listening to music in your vehicle requires a car battery that works properly.

Here in Cincinnati, the cold winter weather is an even bigger reason to take proper care of your car battery. In general, our coldest months with the highest potential for snow and ice are from December through March, which is no surprise since those are the months of winter. Cold weather makes batteries have to work harder to function, which means a battery that might be able to push through and work in September could completely fail in the cold of January.

If you don’t take care of your car battery, then you can end up with your vehicle not starting. When this happens, and you are at home, it can be a big inconvenience. If, on the other hand, this happens when you are out, leaving you stranded at night in sub-zero weather, it can be a serious and potentially dangerous issue.

Safety First, Always!

Any time you perform any kind of vehicle maintenance, it is important to take proper steps to be safe – this is even more important when dealing with your car battery. If you are cleaning the battery or its terminals, or replacing your battery, make sure you wear proper eye protection and safety gloves. Battery acid is very caustic, and if you get it in your eyes, the damage can be catastrophic.

Always make sure you have the right tools for any kind of car battery maintenance or work you are doing. If you have to detach your car battery, always remove the negative connection first – failing to do this creates a very real risk of electric shock, damage to your vehicle, or a fire. If you are unsure about what to do, take your vehicle and battery to a professional service center such as Kings Ford Quick Lane to make sure it is cared for properly.

Easy Car Battery Care at Home

A person is cleaning their car battery with a rag.

One of the easiest things you can to do take care of your car battery before or during the winter here in Cincinnati is cleaning the connections on it. To do this, prepare a mixture of one tablespoon of baking soda in one cup of water. Using a nonmetallic brush, apply the mixture to the cables and connection area, then rinse the area with cool water. You can then disconnect the battery, negative connection first, and pull the cables clear. Use a battery post cleaner to fully clean off the terminal on the battery and the cables to remove any corrosion.

If you have your own hydrometer and battery tester, you can also check the charge of your battery and the electrolyte levels in the battery cells. These are more advanced procedures, however, which might not apply to all car owners. You should remember to reconnect your battery cables to your car battery after cleaning and tighten them to ensure they are secure. Always reconnect your battery with the positive side first, then the negative – the opposite way from how you disconnect them.

More Advanced Car Battery Maintenance

Depending on the type of car battery you have, you can remove the covers from the battery cells and check the fluid levels inside them. The fluid inside is a combination of water and acid referred to as electrolytes, which is vital for proper operation of your vehicle. You can test the electrolytes in each cell using a hydrometer, though make sure you know how to do this properly. If you need to add more water to your battery cells, be sure to only use clean, distilled water and let it sit in the battery for a few hours before operating your vehicle.

You should also check the charge of your battery before winter starts here in Cincinnati. This is easier to do in warm or moderate weather, which is why it is best to do in October or November before the temperature really starts to drop. You can still check your battery even in the winter, but getting ahead of it is always the best idea.

If you need to replace your battery, then be sure to do so carefully since spilled battery acid can be extremely hazardous. Car batteries are very heavy, so make sure you are ready when you lift it up and get help from someone else if you need it. You should clean any corrosion off from the battery tray underneath and make sure it is in good condition before placing the new battery in it.

Kings Ford Quick Lane is Here to Help

Properly caring for your car battery is very important even in locations with ideal weather. Here in Cincinnati, with harsh winters that bring ice and snow, it is even more important to check your batteries before the winter and take care of them as needed. You can also look on the battery in your car to see the label – it will usually have a date that indicates when it was purchased or installed, and an expected lifespan on it. Keep this information in mind whenever you are working on your battery.

If you do not feel comfortable taking care of your car battery yourself, that is completely understandable. Hands-on car maintenance is not for everyone, but you still need to be sure your battery is in good condition. Come visit us at Kings Ford Quick Lane in Cincinnati, Ohio, to check your battery charge, have it cleaned off, and replaced as needed. Visit us before the winter months really set in to make sure you stay safe on the road.

We can also take care of any other maintenance needs you have – from quickly replacing your oil to performing a full lube job and inspection. Proper maintenance ensures your vehicle runs properly and comfortably. You do not want to risk being stranded on the side of the road when snow and arctic cold can turn an inconvenience into a life-threatening situation.

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