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Whether you drive a compact car, a truck or an SUV, having your battery fail to turn over is one of the most stressful winter situations a driver can encounter. Preparing your vehicle for winter doesn't have to be overwhelming, and the best place to start is checking your battery. Here are some easy steps you can take throughout the year to make sure you're ready for cold months ahead.

Clean Your Car Battery
Your battery needs to have a good connection to send the charge to your starter, but that can be hard to do if the posts and terminals are covered in corrosion. Be careful when working with any corrosion to avoid any contact with your skin and eyes. If you do come in contact with any battery corrosion, wash your hands immediately with soap and running water. Battery corrosion can look like a crystal powder or even a fungal growth that covers the battery posts and cable connections.

You can clean off corrosion with a simple battery terminal cleaner, which you can find at any auto parts store. This inexpensive tool can save you a lot of frustration, and it is easy to use. It includes a wire brush for cleaning inside the battery clamps and a wire terminal cleaner you slip over the battery posts and twist to remove corrosion. Keeping your terminals clean allows the battery to send the right amount of power to the systems that need it. You should clean your battery often throughout the year to help keep it in top condition.

Use a Car Battery Charger
Another way to maintain your auto battery is to use a car battery charger to keep your battery at full charge. Most car batteries have a lifespan of three to five years, and using a battery charger can save you the headache of jump-starting it, especially if you let your vehicle sit for long periods of time between drives.

Some car battery chargers have a float option. Chargers that have this feature keep a connected battery at full charge, automatically recharging as the power drains over time. This is a great option if you own an RV, boat or other seasonal recreation vehicle, as you can keep the battery connected through the offseason and have it ready to go when you need it.

Get the Right Battery for Your Climate
Your battery provides cranking amps and cold-cranking amps to your engine to get it started. Cold-cranking amps are an important factor to consider, especially if you live in a location that gets below freezing regularly during autumn and winter. If you have recently moved from a warm climate to a cooler one, you should seriously consider changing to a heavy-duty battery in preparation for the colder months. Batteries can take up to twice as much current in cold winter and autumn weather, so having a battery with enough cranking amps is vital. Your local auto parts store representative can help you determine the right size of battery for your vehicle.

Don't let a drained car battery strand you this winter. Start preparing for cold weather problems today by checking out your battery's condition. Make sure it is clean, charged and strong enough to handle the cold. No matter what season it is, knowing your battery is in top condition can reduce your driving anxiety.

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