Keeping your vehicle well maintained is important. This will help it to be reliable and ready to drive in the winter. One thing to inspect is the battery. Dead or dying batteries are always the biggest reasons for a car not starting during a cold snap. Adding to battery issues are items that are always on, such as electronic devices and smart phones plugged into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket. Those plug-in devices are straining and draining batteries.

In frigid weather like this, weak car batteries are the first to go, so it’s worth having your battery checked. If you have postponed vehicle maintenance, now is the time to take care of it. The cold weather is especially hard on car batteries. At 0°F, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength and at 32°F it loses 35 percent. During cold temperatures starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions.

The life span of an automotive battery has been about 3-5 years. However, with the increase in electronics within vehicles the full life is moving a lot closer to 3 years. Starting a vehicle in cold weather puts more strain on it. If you hear a grinding or clicking sound when you turn on the ignition, the vehicle cranks slowly when attempting to start, or the headlights dim when idling but brighten when the engine is revved, it may be an indication that the battery is starting to wear out.

By having the battery inspected regularly, and also monitoring the use of accessories and electronic devices when your car is not running, you can help maximize its longevity. When your car is not running, the battery continues to supply power to the clock, the anti-theft system, and the other conveniences in modern cars. Accessories, like smartphones and tablets, can add to the drain. Make sure to unplug everything and turn off the heater and radio when you stop, this way the battery only has to focus on starting the vehicle when you need it to.