Here we are, in the middle of winter – the snow is piling up, the kids are staying home from school, and the shovel is out to clear up the driveway. The car, however, can’t bundle up in a sweater and keep warm; it has to endure through subzero temperatures that affect everything from oil to tire pressure to electricity.
That last point is important where it concerns the battery, which Optima Batteries recently addressed in a post on its online blog. The question – “What happens if my car battery freezes?” – was answered in-depth as it relates to Optima’s products, including the YellowTop and Redtop.
First and foremost, a fully charged Optima battery is prepared for subzero conditions: YellowTops can withstand down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit at a charge of 13.0-13.2 volts, while RedTops can withstand down to -50 degrees Fahrenheit at a charge of 12.6-12.8 volts. If they are not fully charged, however, they are prone to freezing as the sulfuric acid and distilled water are not properly mixed, and hence the distilled water will solidify and damage the battery when the key turns in the ignition.
Therefore, if your ride has an Optima battery and is sitting in freezing weather, take into account how long it has been sitting and whether or not the cabin lights are working. Non-working lights will indicate that the battery might be frozen, and Optima stresses that you should not attempt to charge or jump-start the battery in this situation.
When this happens, Optima recommends you check the case for cracks. If found, the battery should be taken to a retailer and replaced. If not found, the battery should be placed somewhere where it can thaw naturally; artificially thawing the battery with say, a blowdryer or space heater, is a big “no.”
After thawing, the battery can be reinstalled and tested. If the cabin lights do not work, Optima suggests taking the battery to a retailer and having it tested and inspected. If they do work, the battery may still need to be recharged to at least 12.6 volts. Optima states that exceeding 10 amps when recharging one of its batteries is not recommended.
So there you have it. A dead Optima battery in the middle of winter is not always a lost cause, but it should not be treated lightly either. Careful attention and common sense will restore it to proper working order. Stay safe and see more from Optima on its website and Facebook page.