Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Savvy Homegirl Takes on Her Car Battery

I returned from Christmas holidays armed and ready to tackle the dead battery in my car that I had discovered before leaving for Christmas. I was sure that it was time for a new battery, so with my new (heavy) purchase in hand, I set to work changing the battery. I discovered very fast that, without the proper tools, this is a challenging job. Finally, a good friend reminded me that my CAA covered battery boosts and install if necessary. Once the truck arrived, I learned that my battery was perfectly fine!! It just needed a charge, and I almost dropped $160 into it on a battery I didn't need.

The driver explained that when your car is off, it still takes a small amount of charge from the battery to power the clock-radio, security system, etc. When a car sits for an extended time in cold weather, the drain on the battery is much quicker, and it can even run your battery dead.

Luckily, this can be easily avoided. Here are some tips to get you out of the cold and get you going next time.

  • Buy a block heater. Most often seen in Western Canada (because no matter how new or how good your car is, it won't want to move any faster than you at -45 degrees), block heaters are also common in diesel cars in Ontario. If you don't have on in your diesel vehicle, they are fairly affordable to install. The downside? It must be plugged in, so unless you're in Manitoba, chances are you won't be able to plug it in at the airport or away from home if its going to be sitting for a few days.

  • Buy a "trickle charger". Again, you need to have a plug, but a trickle charger will charge your battery when it starts to run low. Once charged, it shuts off again. Just don't forget to unplug the charger when you drive away!

  • Disconnect your battery. The easiest way to prevent battery drain? Disconnect the ground post, or the negative side (black), of your battery when you know the car will be sitting for extended periods of time. Keep in mind that this will also disconnect your security system. This might not be a good idea if you are worried about theft.

  • Get CAA! They will come out for free to test, charge, boost or replace your battery if needed. You may need to wait 30 minutes to an hour, but the cost of your membership will nearly be paid for with one call.

No comments:

Post a Comment