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How to Prepare Your Car Battery for a Winter's Rest


Once you've hit the big fall car shows and done your share of leaf picking and foliage tours, it's time to think about getting your special car ready for a long winter's nap. A crucial item in winter car storage is your car's battery. If not handled properly, you can count on a dead battery, and, possibly, a cracked case and spilled battery acid.

One way to avoid this kind of potential trouble is to remove the battery and store it in your basement. That environment, being warmer than the garage, will help keep the battery from running down. Further, since it will be disconnected, you are sure not to have an electrical drain on the battery. Those with a heated garage can accomplish the same thing by leaving the battery in the car, and simply disconnecting the battery or utilizing one of the many battery cutoff switches available today. Eastwood has a top-post Battery Shut-Off Switch.

If you do not have a basement or similar storage area warmer than a garage, and need to leave your battery in the car for the winter, there are several precautionary measures we suggest. As we prepared to put a 1970 Plymouth Super Bird to rest for the winter we, too, followed these steps. See photo #1.

First, take your battery out of the tray and clean the tray thoroughly. A solution of water and baking soda will neutralize acid remaining in the tray. Scale and rust should be removed, too. If rust cannot be completely removed, then remove any grease/oil residue and apply a couple of coats of Rust Encapsulator. You may want to seal your tray at this time.

At this point, we hooked-up our battery to an Eastwood 12v Battery Tender Plus. The Battery Tender keeps the battery gently charged without overcharging (like trickle chargers can and sometimes do). Your battery will remain charged and ready to go without suffering from damaging run-down. Should you want to fire that car up once a month or so to keep everything lubricated, or a winter indoor car show comes up, you're ready to go. The connections from the tender to the battery are accomplished with simple alligator clips, which make for easy on and off. The Battery Tender comes in 6- and 12-volt versions. A Battery Tender Junior is available as well for lighter applications. See photo #2.