It’s a driver’s worst nightmare: being stranded on a cold winter night with a dead battery. Even if they hadn’t had any problems previously, the cold can do a number on your battery if its charge has gotten low. Just like a lot of people, batteries work slower when it’s cold. Freezing temperatures slow down the chemical reaction that occurs in your lead acid battery, while a cold engine demands more power to get warmed up. Combined, that results in a lot of dead batteries during the winter.

So what are the signs that your battery’s charge might be failing on you?

  • The engine cranks a lot slower.
  • The headlights are dimmer.
  • Your electronic accessories aren’t working as well.
  • The car horn sounds different.

Overall, a battery that’s over 3 years old will also start to decline. It all depends on how you use your car and its electronic accessories. You can help prevent your battery from draining prematurely by:

  • Turning off interior light and headlights. Most cars these days will turn off automatically when you remove the key or after a certain amount of time, but it’s still a good habit to have.
  • Unplug any accessories. Even when your car is off, accessories like a cell phone charger can still draw power from the USB port.
  • Avoid having other electronics on while your engine is off. Letting the radio or GPS, for example, continue while your engine is off can negatively impact your battery’s charge.
  • Park your car in a place protected from the weather if possible. This helps protect the battery from any damaging winds, and then it most likely won’t have to heat up as much.
  • Avoid drives that are 10 minutes or less. Short, daily drives take energy from your battery without allowing it the proper time to charge, which affects its overall performance.

Even if you’re doing all this and watching for the signs, a dead battery can still sneak up on you. The best preventative measure is to get the charge checked out by professionals. They’ll let you know if they see issues like corrosion around the battery and how well the charge is doing going into winter.

We also recommend that you always have jumper cables in your car just in case you do get stranded. If you’re worried about how your battery is performing or need a replacement, stop by Superior Service Center for auto service you can trust.