When starting your commercial or owner operator truck, a chemical reaction in your battery produces the electrical current that turns your starter. However, all chemical reactions slow down in cold temperatures, including the one inside your battery. This decreases the available current to turn your motor and power your other electrical systems. This is why battery performance drops in cold weather.
Charging your battery also involves a chemical reaction. It is the reverse of the reaction that occurs when discharging your battery. Therefore, cold temperatures slow this down as well.
The following eight cold weather battery tips will help make your winter easier:
- Keep the battery warm. When possible, park your truck in an enclosed and preferably warm area. Avoid parking in exposed and windy areas. The wind rapidly draws away heat by convection.
- Keep the engine block warm. Use an electric heater to keep the engine block warm. This will reduce the work load of the starter, and therefore reduce the power draw from the battery.
- Check the terminal connections. Keep the terminal connections clean and tight. All connections are a form of electrical resistance. The looser the connection, the greater the resistance. Dirty or corroded connections also increase electrical resistance.
- Disconnect parasitic loads. These are all the electrical devices in your truck that draw power off the battery. It doesn’t matter if the power draw is small. They add up over time. This is particularly critical when leaving the engine off for lengthy periods.
- Keep the battery fully charged. If your charging system works properly, then the battery is fully charged after a long drive. On the other hand, multiple attempts to turn the engine over without success leave the battery in a state of low charge. Making multiple short drives where the engine is turned off and then restarted also leaves the battery with a low charge. This shortens the battery’s life. Always keep it in a fully charged state.
- Keep your truck on the go. This keeps the batteries in a fully charged state and increases your productivity.
- Replace aging batteries. Replace old batteries (about 4 years) or those giving you problems. Replace batteries that can’t hold a charge.
- Test your batteries. Don’t wait until you’re on the road to learn about your battery problems.
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