For those of us who own and drive cars and other vehicles, winter can be a really difficult time. Getting around becomes more problematic, as road conditions worsen. Cold temperatures can sap battery life, in addition to making engines more difficult to start. Putting seasonal vehicles away for the winter is a huge hassle and often results in dead batteries the following spring. But, with a few relatively easy steps, these problems can be reduced or eliminated, making your winter mostly worry free.
1 – Charge Your Jump Starter
This one is simple enough. Charge your jump starter(s). If you didn’t charge up after receiving your September recharge alert, now’s the time to do it. Give each of your units an overnight charge to make sure that they are ready to serve you when you need them. We hear from many of you who say, “… but it doesn’t need a charge, even though I used it twice and I last charged it seven months ago.” We are glad your unit is holding a charge, but you should charge it regularly (every 90 days), even when it doesn’t look like it needs it. This ensures your unit is regularly getting to a full charge, which will stave off deterioration in the form of battery sulfation.
If your jump starter is a lithium unit, it needs to be charged regularly also. Yes, lots of people have probably told you that a lithium battery can hold a charge for as long as a year. It’s true that, in some cases, this is so. But when you want to use the unit as a jump starter, having a little bit of a charge isn’t going to cut it. We recommend, for best results, that your lithium unit be at or above 75% state of charge when used as a jump starter. Don’t let lack of charge be the reason you need to call in a tow – charge going into winter and you’ll be glad you did.
Not signed up for recharge alerts? You can do so here. Your jump starter doesn’t even have to be a Clore product! We are happy to send you an alert no matter where you purchased your product.
While you’re in a charging mood, we recommend looking at all of your equipment that might need charging. Power tools – sure, those lithium batteries like being at full charge as much as your jump starter does. LED work lights – same story. If it has a battery, now’s the time to get it fully charged.
2 – Take Care of Your Seasonal Equipment
We know that tending to your seasonal use vehicles/toys can be a real hassle. But, this is a textbook example of a situation where the effort you make now will come back to you multifold. Particularly when it comes to managing your batteries. Whether you own a boat, personal watercraft, motorcycle or all of the above, you have a serious amount of money invested in batteries. It makes sense to service them to ensure you maximize your return and there is no service more important than the offseason service. Servicing your batteries using a quality battery charger during the offseason can add 1-3 additional years of service life, in some cases doubling battery longevity.
If you have a single item headed into long term (3-6 months) storage, we would recommend using a single channel battery maintainer, either by removing the battery and charging it on your bench or charging the battery directly while still installed in your equipment. Our PRO-LOGIX PL2140 is a perfect product for this application. It can properly charge flooded, AGM, Spiral Wound, Deep Cycle, Marine and LiFePO4 Lithium batteries. Its operation is fully automatic and features an enhanced storage charging routine that reduces stress on the battery and restores reserve capacity and function. It also has multiple output options (clamps, rings, 12V plug), so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
If you have several items that need to go into seasonal storage, it probably makes sense to look at a multibank charger, so that you can keep all your batteries charged up simultaneously. Our PRO-LOGIX PL4020 is perfect for this use, as it features 4 channels of 2A output and can properly charge flooded, AGM, Spiral Wound, Deep Cycle and Marine batteries. Each channel is fully independent of the other three and the unit features our enhanced storage charging routine. With the PL4020, you can be sure that, when spring time comes around, you’re ready to roll.
3 – Test All of Your Batteries
The end of life scenario for most modern batteries is very different than it was just 20 years ago. In the 90s and earlier, as your battery approached the end of its useful life, you would hear the starter struggle to turn over and the starting cycle slowed down compared to normal. Your little voice said, “Better pick up a new battery this weekend.” Not so with today’s batteries, which can start a vehicle easily on Tuesday and then be too weak to do anything on Wednesday.
This phenomenon – which is well documented in the trade publications – makes it all the more important to know the state of health of the batteries powering your everyday use vehicles.
Many service facilities, when you go in for your oil change, will check your battery condition for no charge. This is a good option, but may not be best option if your family has several different vehicles, each on its own service schedule. Another great option is to take matters into your own hands with a battery tester of your own. Our SOLAR BA6 model is ideal for home use, with the ability to test everything from powersports batteries to large Group 31 batteries. Plus, it typically retails for under $100, so the avoidance of one major setback may offset the cost of the tester. And, it’s super easy to use.
4 – Charge Each of Your Daily Driver Vehicles
We addressed the need to manage and maintain your seasonal use batteries in Step 2, but it is important to also give some TLC to your daily driver. Today’s vehicle designs, with numerous computer modules, complex command and control systems, and in-cabin conveniences, place tremendous strain on the battery. One way to counteract the forces working to deplete battery life is to periodically charge your battery using a quality battery charger. As we like to say, charging used to be a reactive event (“my battery is low, so I should charge it”), but now it really needs to be a proactive event (“I need to charge my battery to avoid a future negative surprise”).
A quick, easy way to give your battery a shot in the arm is to run it through a charging cycle with our PL2310 12V 10/6/2A Intelligent Battery Charger. The PL2310 will take a battery through our PRO-LOGIX multi-step charging process, restore reserve capacity to support long battery life, and automatically turn off when the charge it complete. We recommend performing an overnight charge, connecting the charger in the evening and removing it from the battery/vehicle the following morning. This makes it super easy and alleviates the tendency to helicopter around the charger throughout the charging process. Periodic charging is a great way to prevent no start situations and give your battery what it needs to achieve a long service life.
A Few Steps Can Make Winter Much Easier
This isn’t everything, of course. You should check your fluids, perhaps update your wiper blades, make sure your tires have proper air pressure, consider snow tires if you live somewhere with high winter precipitation levels, and more. But these four quick, easy steps can help you avoid a lot of battery hassles this winter and all the winters to come (and save you quite a bit of money if you aren’t currently getting a long life from your seasonal use vehicle batteries). These steps can also help you avoid unsafe situations, such as a dead battery on the side of a busy road in inclement weather. When it comes to managing your batteries and vehicles in winter, an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure.
Do you have a winter prep routine that works well for you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.