MEDIA RELEASE: Get ready for winter: How to avoid a dead car batteryNovember 19, 20203 min read
Car owners face a higher chance of getting a dead battery this year because of the pandemic
As temperatures start to drop and Ontarians spend more time at home because of the pandemic, CAA South Central Ontario ( CAA SCO) is alerting drivers that dead car batteries will be one of the main concerns this winter, especially with vehicles staying idle for long stretches of time.
Last year, CAA SCO saw a total of 354,480 battery-related calls, a 34 per cent increase over the last two years. That number is expected to go up this year.
“A dead or dying battery can easily leave you stranded at the worst possible time,” says Tony Tsai, vice president of corporate communications and services for CAA SCO. “We recommend that around the same time you install your winter tires, you should ask your mechanic to check the car battery.”
Cars and trucks contain thousands of complex electrical systems. Anti-theft systems, remote keyless entry gear and even those cell phone chargers plugged into a 12-volt socket can draw power even when not in use.
For that reason, a car battery will eventually lose its charge if it isn’t used at least once every few weeks. If you know you are not going to be using your vehicle that often in winter, use a trickle charger or battery tender with an automatic shut-off feature to keep it in good condition.
So how do you know your battery won’t last through the winter months?
Tsai says, “Watch for cranking, grinding or clicking when you turn on your ignition, these are all signs that your car battery needs to be replaced.”
A battery check typically takes only 30 minutes and can range from $30 to $50 at automotive facilities across Ontario.
Learn more about the signs that your battery may need testing.
Motorists can also avoid a dead battery with these preventative measures:
- Install a Battery Tender - This device has two claws that attach to your battery’s terminals like jumper cables. It then plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet and automatically delivers small amounts of electricity to keep the battery charged during periods of inactivity.
- Swap out your old one - Most batteries last between three to five years. If yours is getting old, replace it before wintertime.
- Keep corrosion at bay - The white or blue powder that appears on your battery terminals is corrosion, which can prevent a car from starting. Inspect your battery and carefully clean away any residue that you find.
- Turn off your accessories - Don’t start the car with the heater and radio on. They can use up the power coming from the vehicle’s alternator and prevent the battery from charging.
- Don’t disconnect your battery - If your car is going to sit idle for an extended period, don’t unplug your battery. Some devices, like clocks and alarm systems, use power when the car is off. If you plan on not using your vehicle for a long period of time, use a battery maintainer device.
If your battery is giving you problems or you are unsure if it’s time to replace it, you can call CAA’s mobile Battery Service at *222 to have a trained CAA Battery Service Representative come test your battery and provide a helping hand.
Tony Tsai Vice President, Corporate Communications and Services
Tony Tsai oversees the organization's internal and external communications.