All of us who own cars know that we change our windshield wipers every six months to a year or if we notice a difference in the visibility. Other than the routine of changing our windshield wipers, we don’t ever really think about them. As a newlywed, I noticed that my husband doesn’t turn his windshield wipers off before he turns off the car. I started to wonder if there was a possibility of his battery draining because he wasn’t shutting off his wipers.
Under typical electrical situations in your car, your windshield wipers will not drain your battery. It is, however, a best practice to make sure all accessories are “off” before turning off your vehicle. Making sure the accessories are off will decrease the possibility of leaving something else that may drain your battery.
It is a relief that windshield wipers will not drain your battery. There are, however, many situations that may lead to your battery draining in your car. The good news is that there are precautions that you can take to prevent draining your battery. You can do things specifically for warmer and colder months.
What Can Drain Your Car Battery?
Many things can drain your car’s battery. Some examples that can drain your battery are:
- Battery draining due to faulty alternator diode. A corroded diode will cause the circuit to draw power, even if the engine is not running.
- Extreme temperatures, like temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and -10 degrees Fahrenheit, will cause your battery to drain.
- A car sitting unused for extended periods will drain your battery quickly.
Here are some things to check when trying to discover why a car battery is drained.
Leaving The Lights On
The first thing that can drain your car’s battery is leaving the lights on in your vehicle. We have all done this at least once in our driving careers.
If your car doesn’t have some kind of system to alert you when the lights are on, it can be easy to leave them on. Depending on where your mind is when you park, the simple task of turning off the lights may escape your mind completely.
An Old Battery
The battery might be old. Batteries have a lifespan between four and six years. If that battery goes beyond that time, the charge may drain faster than average. It is a good idea to keep up with the lifespan of your battery to be able to catch the changes in the rate of the battery draining.
If there are electrical problems in your car, that may not be your fault. Your car alarm, clock, and radio are all normal electrical operations that are left on in the background. Sometimes, systems in your car that are not left on might be turned on due to an electrical glitch.
The best thing you can do is take the car to a mechanic to diagnose an electrical glitch and how to fix it.
If you suspect a battery drain due to a parasitic accessory, then you might be able to test it yourself with a few extra parts and a multimeter. (See Video)
Loose or Corroded Connections
The fourth way your car battery can drain your battery is corroded or loose battery connections. Corroded or loose batteries are likely due to irregular maintenance.
When you maintain your vehicle regularly, the shop will check all the fluids and connections in your car to ensure your safety. They will also be able to see if the connections have come loose and will reconnect them during the maintenance.
Prevention in The Summer
There are many things that you can do in the summer to help your car battery from draining. An example would be buying a car battery charger, it can stop it from dying when not in use.
- The first thing to try and do in extreme heat is to try and keep your car away from excessive heat. Heat can be especially dangerous because, internally, the temperature will dry up the battery fluid if you can search for cool or shaded areas to park your car. You can also try cooling down the interior of the car before getting in (IE: Keeping the doors open for a moment to let out the trapped air).
- What is essential in the summer months is to drive your car regularly. If you do not drive your vehicle regularly, the battery will die sooner than you expect. What some people suggest is to drive your vehicle to run simple errands about once a month. If you do not want to drive, an alternative is to turn your car on and leave it running for about 15 minutes.
- Another way to keep your battery from draining in the summer is to be mindful of your electronic devices. Most people are used to driving with their different devices plugged in, like, cell phones, navigation systems, and tablets. When you have your electronic devices plugged in, it begins to drain your battery. In the summer, your car battery is already working overtime, and leaving electronic devices plugged in increases how fast the battery drains.
- The fourth way to prevent your car battery from draining in the summer is quite simple; keep your battery clean. Corrosion on the battery will cause the battery to drain quicker, and keeping it clean helps the battery run optimally. The easiest way to clean your battery is to wipe the built-up grime with a paper towel. You can scrub the battery terminals with a toothbrush using a mixture of baking soda and water, then wipe it away with a cloth.
Prevention in The Winter
There are many things that you can do in the winter to help your car battery from draining. An example would be having your car battery checked before winter begins to verify the battery’s health.
The first thing to try in the extreme cold is to park your car away from the cold. An ideal place for a vehicle is inside a garage, which keeps the battery away from the outside elements. If you do not have access to a garage, the next best thing is to park your car with the front of it facing the opposite way of the wind.
What is essential in the winter months is to pause before you turn on your accessories. In the winter, it is necessary to let the alternator charge the battery before you bombard it with all your accessories. It is also essential to make sure all of those accessories are turned off before you turn off your car.
Turning off the accessories will make sure that they are not draining the battery when the vehicle is not on.
In the winter, if you notice your car is having some difficulty turning over, you can juice it up before you start it. Carrying a battery jump starter is an essential item to have if you are going to have your car in cold temperatures.
A fully charged battery will not freeze until about -76 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas a battery not fully charged will start to freeze around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This extra charge can help your battery last through the winter months.
The fourth way to prevent your car battery from draining in the winter is to keep your battery free from dirt and debris. When the temperatures drop in the winter, the battery has to work harder with the thickened engine oil and electrical resistance.
If you see a white substance on your battery terminals, that is a sure sign of corrosion. To clean off that corrosion, take a damp cloth, baking soda, water, and a toothbrush to clean that off of the battery.
The windshield wipers are one among many accessories in your car to turn off to ensure your car battery is not drained. In the summer and winter, we can prevent battery drain by keeping our cars inside a garage or an area with better temperature regulation.
If we maintain our battery and follow best practices to prevent battery drain, then a draining battery is usually due to electrical issues in our car, such as the alternator or bad wire connections.
If you have AAA or go to an auto parts store, they are likely able to test your battery and diagnose any problems. Then you can get back on the road with confidence that your battery is in good working condition.