Tips on Caring for Your Car's Battery This Winter

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Cold weather affects a car's battery more than any other engine component. Filled with fluid containing mostly water, batteries are susceptible to freezing.

Additionally, cold weather thickens engine oil, forcing the battery to work harder when starting the car. A vehicle's battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing and more than 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.

Plus, the more electrical devices in the car--such as electronic fuel injection systems, electric windows, sunroofs and audio systems--the more power the battery should have. If the car is exposed to extreme cold, the best guarantee against failure is a battery with a high level of cold cranking amps, at least 550, depending on the type of engine in your vehicle.

"Motorists should have their battery checked when they learn of an incoming wave of cold weather," said Interstate Batteries Technical Ser­vices Manager Gale Kimbrough. "A fully charged battery is the best defense against cold weather and vehicle nonstarts. In cold weather, engines require more cranking amps and batteries are less efficient, reducing their charge accep­tance and ability to start an engine."

To help, the experts at Interstate Batteries recommend the following:

n Have the vehicle's starting and charging system tested every three months or every oil change.

n Use a battery charger to maintain charge levels and keep the battery in good condition. If the battery is more than three years old, have it tested to ensure that it can survive the coldest winter months.

n Have the battery tested before taking a long trip or after it has been recharged.

n Inspect the battery cables, posts and fasteners. Make sure the cables are in good shape and are secured firmly to the battery.

n Clean the battery terminals with a wire brush or battery cleaner spray.

n Choose the appropriate battery for the vehicle. It should be the correct size and voltage, especially for a vehicle that experiences extremely harsh winter conditions.

n When possible, keep the vehicle in a garage overnight, especially in areas with extremely harsh winter conditions.

n Avoid damage to the battery and keep connections from loosening with a snug-fitting battery in the battery tray.

n If the battery is not a sealed model, check the fluid levels, using distilled water to fill any cells that appear low.

n Always wear protective eyewear; remove all jewelry and wear long sleeves to protect skin from an explosion of battery acid.

In just 30 seconds, Interstate All Battery CenterSRTm locations can provide motorists with a free printout analysis of their vehicle battery condition. In addition to automobile batteries, Interstate All Battery Center offers an Outrageously DependableSRTm line of more than 16,000 different portable power products. For information, go to www.­interstatebatteries.com.

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