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Fully charged: 7 tips to protect your car battery this winter

These tips and tricks will keep your battery charged all winter long.

Image: Shutterstock/ArtOfPhotos

LAST WEEK WE looked at 7 things you can do now to protect your car’s exterior all winter long. This week we are going to show you how to take care of you car battery during the colder months.

Get tested

Firstly, mechanics recommend changing your car’s battery every three years – though you could get away with five years, depending on how much and how you drive. Many garages will test the battery using a computerised battery tester which will also assess the starting and charging system.

This will show if the battery needs to be re-charged or replaced. Your car won’t start if its battery is low on charge.

Keep warm

Much like humans, batteries like to keep warm during the winter months. If you don’t have a garage, invest in a car cover or try to park your car in a sheltered spot away from the wind. Park your car at night facing towards the east, as the sun rises it will ever so slightly start warming up the car.

Chill out

When you get in your car and turn the ignition let the alternator charge the battery before you start turning on the radio, lights and air-con. Warning: never leave your running car unoccupied as this is a prime time for cars to be stolen.

Clean up

According to Firestone ”low temperatures increase electrical resistance and thicken engine oil, making the battery work harder. Dirt, grime, and corrosion on your battery terminals can add to this resistance.” So using a mixture of baking soda and water and an old toothbrush, give your battery a clean to keep it free of dirt.

Stay loose

As mentioned, in colder temperatures, engine oil thickens and therefore flows more slowly. Consider getting an oil change during the cold months and switching to a thinner, less viscous oil. Look for oil with the letter ‘W’ as this stands for ‘winter’ but make sure it is suitable for the car’s engine type – for example if your car has a DPF be sure to check if C1, C2 or C3 specification oil is required.

  • 0W oil will flow correctly up to -30 degrees Celsius
  • 5W oil will flow correctly up to -25 degrees Celsius
  • 10W oil will flow correctly up to -20 degrees Celsius
  • 15W oil will flow correctly up to -15 degrees Celsius
  • 20W oil will flow correctly up to -10 degrees Celsius

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Try again

If your car won’t start after 15-20 seconds of trying, let it sit for two minutes before trying again. If it still won’t start, tighten and clean the battery connections and try again. They could just be corroded or loose.

Be prepared

Keep some jump leads handy or invest in a battery charger but just make sure it is suitable for the type of car you have. If your car starts when jumped, check to see if you left your lights on, if you did just drive the car for 30 minutes to fully charge the battery.

If you didn’t leave the lights on, something else might be causing the battery to drain – my stereo was the cause of many a dead battery – in which case you should take it to a mechanic to get the battery tested. Many places do this for free.

READ: Review: The Subaru Forester is a rugged, dependable and practical family SUV >

READ: 7 things you can do now to protect your car’s exterior all winter long >

About the author:

Melanie May  /

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