As the autumn winds sweep in and the weather turns colder, there’s nothing more frustrating than abandoning the warmth of your bed, only to find that your car refuses to start. This problem can often be attributed to a drained battery, which becomes more vulnerable to power loss as temperatures decrease, potentially leaving you stranded in the chill.
To address this issue, here are five simple and affordable strategies to help ensure that your battery remains in good health until the relief of spring warmth arrives:
1. Avoid Short Drives
Contrary to popular belief, frequently running your engine for brief periods can exhaust your battery faster than taking it on a lengthy journey. In essence, short bursts of driving do not allow ample time for your battery to recharge properly, as the process of starting your car puts a strain on it. If you turn off your car just five to ten minutes later, the battery won’t have sufficient time to recuperate, leading to rapid discharge.
It is therefore advisable to plan for extended trips, particularly on the highway, when possible. This strategy allows your battery an extended opportunity to recharge. Opting for a slightly farther grocery store could add a few extra miles to your trip, but the marginal increase in fuel cost is considerably less than the expense of buying a new battery.
2. Don’t Remain Parked in One Spot Too Long
Despite their modern conveniences and innovative technologies, current vehicles are equipped with a plethora of electronic devices that could unwittingly deplete your battery. Even when your vehicle is not in use, features like security systems and keyless entry continue to draw a minimal yet constant current, a phenomenon known as parasitic drain.
If you foresee your vehicle being idle for an extended period, such as when you park at an airport to depart on a holiday vacation, try to minimize parasitic drain by deactivating as many of these features as feasible. Moreover, if you plan to stay home for several consecutive winter days, consider making the journey to your car and running the engine for about 20 minutes daily. In doing so, your battery can stick to its regular charging cycle.
3. Don’t Leave Electronics On with the Engine Off
It’s never a good idea to leave your dashboard active after switching off your car engine, regardless of the season. However, this act poses a greater risk to your battery during the colder months. Always ensure that all electronic devices, including your heater, radio, and headlights, are switched off when you turn off your car. If you happen to be sitting in your car for an extended period of time, it’s more beneficial for your battery to just keep the engine running.
4. Have a Pair of Jumper Cables Handy
We know that your trunk space is precious, but donate at least part of it to a pair of jumper cables. When you find yourself stuck on the side of a wintry road, there’s no guarantee that the first driver to happen upon you will have cables of their own.
At minimum, make sure each time you leave the house that your phone is charged. Hopefully you’re able to jump your car and avoid making a call for a tow, but it’s best to keep every available option open.
5. Monitor Your Battery More Frequently
If you still find yourself frequently worried about the condition of your car battery this Fall, it might be wise to purchase a car battery tester. Regular voltage monitoring can alert you to any impending signs of drain. After each examination, confirm that your battery is securely anchored to avoid potential internal damage caused by vibrations, especially in uneven, rural terrains. If you observe any corrosion, gently clean the battery terminals with cold water and dry them thoroughly with a cloth.
And if all else fails, remember that Toyota of Abilene is here for all your battery service needs. Our comprehensive diagnostic tests will leave no doubt as to what’s ailing your battery and what steps need to be taken next.
Throughout the Fall, stop by our showroom and check out our new and used inventory. And don’t neglect the rest of your vehicle just because your battery is now humming comfortably! From oil changes to parts and more, Toyota of Abilene has everything you need to stay on the road this holiday season.