Tricks To Keep Your Car Battery Alive When Not In Use For Long Periods Of Time Or In The Cold Of Winter

Keep your car battery alive when not in use for long periods of time or in the cold of winter
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Winter is coming, and the last thing you’d want is commuting in such weather with a dead battery. Luckily, we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we’re going to include the tricks to keep your car battery alive when not in use for periods of time or in the cold of winter. Without further ado, let’s get started!

The Average Car Battery Life

On a general scale, car batteries last from 2 to 5 years. Your battery can reach five years of use, provided that you give it proper maintenance.

Your Battery Can Last Up To 5 Years With Proper Maintenance

Your Battery Can Last Up To 5 Years With Proper Maintenance!

One of the most significant factors that directly impact your car battery is the weather.

A running engine already produces high levels of heat. So if you have your car running on a scorching hot day, it can result in severe battery drain and, of course, a dead battery.

It is vital to take proper summer driving precautions to lengthen your battery life in the summer.

Have you noticed the average car battery life in warmer climates is significantly shorter? This is because the heat causes the fluid in batteries to evaporate, which damages the interior of the battery.

On the other hand, car batteries may feel sluggish in colder months regardless of the unchanged state of charge. The reason for this is the cold condition slows down the chemical reaction within the battery, limiting the ability to provide sufficient power to start and run your car.

Whatever temperature you drive in, proper maintenance is required to keep the engine running. Consequently, there are several things you can do to prolong the life of the battery.

Tricks To Keep Your Car Battery Alive When Not In Use For Long Periods Of Time Or In The Cold Of Winter

How To Keep Car Battery From Dying When Not In Use

Are you eager to find out how to keep a car battery charged while in storage?

First of all, you should know that idling the car is far from ideal to keep it charged. Rumor has it that idling your car for 15-20 minutes gives the battery enough time to recharge.

This approach will probably work for older models; modern ones are often equipped with advanced battery management systems to help extend the battery life.

This technology restricts the car’s ability to charge at low RPMs, so the battery won’t be charged unless you’re moving your car at a faster pace.

Try To Minimize The Heat Exposure

Cold weather kills batteries; this is something we can all agree on. But, did you know one of the reasons why they fail during the winter months is the sustained heat exposure they encountered from the previous summer?

As mentioned, the fluid within the battery evaporates due to the heat, even in sealed top accumulators. Then, when the cold comes, it reveals the shortcomings of the already-weaken battery. It is due to the lower atmospheric conditions that drain the remaining cranking power when it tries to start the engine with thick oil.

The best thing you can do, if possible, is to park your car either in the shade or in the garage. Plus, you can check out ways to help insulate the battery from heat generated within the engine bay.


How To Keep Car Battery From Dying In Winter

Get The Battery Checked Before Winter Comes

People often wonder, “Why does my car battery keep dying in cold weather?” There are a few reasons for this; one of them is due to weak and old batteries.

Before winter hits, you should get your battery checked. Old and weak batteries won’t stand a chance in extremely cold conditions.

Get The Battery Checked

Get The Battery Checked

This step is crucial to give you peace of mind during winter. Even though you’ll probably need to spend the whole afternoon, your future self will thank you later.

Either get the battery checked at a repair shop (usually for free) or do it yourself with a car battery tester to see how well the battery is holding up.

Use your senses to see if it can make it through winter or if you’re due for a new one.

Juice It Up!

How to keep a car battery from dying in cold weather? Juice it up! A fully charged battery won’t freeze until -76℉, whereas a half-charged or fully empty battery could freeze prematurely at 32℉.

During the winter months, you’d want to keep the battery charged a couple of times a week by a trickle charger, keeping it as juiced up as possible.

Consequently, the charging process should also be carried out at night when the temperature drops.

Drive As Often As Possible

Another way to keep a car battery charged through winter is to drive your car.

In winter, we all want to stay cooped up at home and watch TV with some piping hot cocoa. However, you’d want to put on the warmest coat you have and drive the car outside for a bit every day.

How long to run a car to charge the battery in cold weather? At least 10-15 minutes a day.

Run Your Car For At Least 15 Minutes A Day

Run Your Car For At Least 15 Minutes A Day

Driving keeps the cold away. The engine keeps the battery warm as you drive, keeping it healthy and ‘exercised’ through the winter. Drive as often as possible, but don’t take short drives. By short, I mean driving for a few miles, then stopping. Don’t do that.

As the engine starts to feel a bit ‘down,’ it’s time to take your car to see a technician. This can be a sign of your battery dying or already dead. Driving won’t bring it back to life.

Park Your Car In A Garage

So, you’re wondering, “How do I keep my battery warm in the winter?” The truth is, you should apply the same strategy you’d do with your car when not in use – park it in the garage.

Park Your Car Inside

Park Your Car Inside

At night, especially in winter, the ambient temperature can drop so low that they kill the battery. What you’re doing next relies on how weak your battery is. The weaker the battery, the warmer it has to be.

Even though the battery’s case (made of polypropylene plastic) does have thermal protection, it won’t be able to fight against the cold if the battery is all worn out. So, how to keep a car battery warm overnight?

The interior of the battery with its material structures helps keep the electrolyte mixture about five degrees warmer than the normal temperature.

The more discharged your battery is, the thinner this mixture gets. At the 10% rate, the fluid inside is pure water, but you don’t have to worry.

Thanks to the polypropylene case, your battery won’t freeze until the temperature gets down to 32℉.

Wrap The Battery In A Thermal Blanket

How do I keep my car battery from dying in cold weather? Wrap it in a thermal blanket! Keeping the battery wrapped up in a thermal blanket is a good idea to protect it from the cold.

This gadget goes by many names: battery warmers, thermal wraps, insulators, etc. It is a corrosion-resistant heat blanket for your accumulators. You can easily purchase it in stores or online.

It is recommended that you place a dry, thick towel on the battery after driving for warmth.

Once you’ve got back, place the prepared towel on the engine. The towel, along with the extra coating of the battery, will act as a means to hold the heat.

Also, don’t forget to remove the towel before starting the car again.

However, homeowners are likely to encounter a problem when they replace the battery on their own: they mess up the extra coating. My advice? Don’t do that.

If you’re not sure what you’re doing, it’s best to bring the car to a repair store and have the battery replaced by the experts. This coating may seem useless, but it’s actually a battery protector as it aids in surrounding the heat.

A Trickle Charger Won’t Be Enough

I know I’ve asked you to fully charge the battery before winter, but charging a car battery in cold weather is not going to be that easy.

As the temperature drops to 32℉, the battery charging rate can only get to 65%, meaning that you’re going to need more power and time to recharge that same battery.

Again, your best bet is to see a technician and have the battery checked.

Now, if you’re familiar with the safety requirements, you can use a hydrometer and test the specific gravity to see whether the battery needs to be recharged.

First, remove the battery, open the vent caps, and add deionized, distilled water. Next, check the specific gravity of the electrolyte mixture to see if it’s fully charged. Once the mixture is full and at room temperature, carry out the charging process.

Another way to test whether your battery is fully charged is to open the circuit voltage. A healthy, fully-charged lead-acid battery should read 12.65 volts or above.

I highly recommend the second method as it is much safer and easier to do.

Clean The Terminal

How to protect a car battery in cold weather? Clean the terminal!

During the cold months, lower temperatures make room for electrical resistance and thicken engine oil. This results in dirt, grime, and corrosion building up on your battery terminal.

What you need to do is to grab a damp cloth and some baking soda to freshen things up. Before you start cleaning, make sure your engine is not running and has cooled down to room temperature.

Add ½ ounce of baking soda into 8 ounces of boiling water, and mix them thoroughly. Use the prepared cloth and an old toothbrush to wipe everything down nice and clean.

Cleaning the battery is a good practice; you’d want to act on it before things become too much of a hassle to handle at once.

It is recommended that you smear a layer of petroleum jelly on the battery terminals once they’re clean to prevent potential corrosion.

If The Battery If Dying, Replace

How long can a car battery last in cold weather? It depends on how weak the battery already is. As trivial as it sounds, some folks actually refuse to believe that their battery is dead and needs replacement.

They’re often hesitant to find a battery that is new and works properly. You have to understand this: batteries can only be charged up to a number of times. After that, they get significantly weaker and won’t be able to work.

Sometimes, batteries do last longer with care and maintenance. But the moment you start the car in winter and your four-year-old battery sounds like it’s cranking the engine slower and slower, it’s time to get a new battery.

If it seems like the battery is dying, it probably is.

Buy A New Battery

Buy A New Battery


Now that you know the tips to keep your car battery alive when not in use for long periods of time or in the cold of winter, I hope you can get fully prepared for the upcoming winter.

The most important thing is to keep the battery fully charged before winter comes. In that way, everything else becomes much easier.

And finally, care for your whole car too. Make sure to take it in for routine tune-ups and properly store it so the lifespan of the battery can work at its full capability.

Thank you for reading!

Frank Galvin

Hi everybody! My name is Galvin, an automotive engineer and team leader of Autopartguide. I have a passion and a special love for cars and all auto parts related to them. You can see I'm excited all day with my cars.