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How To Deal With A Frozen Car Battery (Tips, FAQs)

August 18, 2021

Here’s a scenario nobody wants to be in:

You start your car on a frigid morning, only to find that you’ve got a frozen car battery.

So, what can you do about it? 

And why did it happen in the first place?

In this article, we’ll take a look at why your car battery has frozen, how to handle a frozen car battery, and how to prevent your battery from freezing in the future. We’ll also answer some common frozen car battery FAQs to clear up any questions you might have.

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Let’s get started.

Why Do I Have A Frozen Car Battery?

To get an idea of why you have a frozen battery, you first need to briefly understand how your car battery works. 

The lead acid battery contains lead plates and a mixture of sulfuric acid and distilled water.

The battery’s fluids form an electrolyte that makes a chemical reaction with the lead plates to create electricity. This electrolyte has a low freezing point and is unlikely to freeze when you have a fully charged battery. 

However, if you have a discharged battery, the electrolyte’s freezing point rises and this could leave you with a cold battery. Also, if you have a weak battery, it could start freezing even if it’s not exposed to extremely cold temperature conditions.

You now know what causes battery freezing, but what can you do about a frozen battery?

How Do I Deal With A Frozen Car Battery?

If you suspect your lead acid battery is frozen, here’s how you can take care of it:

Step #1: Inspect The Battery

Start by finding out if your lead acid battery is indeed frozen

Turn off the ignition switch and inspect the battery

If the battery fluid is leaking or the battery has signs of damage, don’t try to test the battery. Instead, call a mechanic to help you out.

If you have a sealed lead acid battery with no signs of damage, you’ll need to get hold of a mechanic if you suspect it’s frozen. That’s because you won’t be able to open the battery and determine the state of its fluid.

However, if you have a flooded lead acid battery that seems to be in a good condition, here’s how you can take a further look:

Step #2: Thaw Out The Battery

If your vehicle is equipped with a block heater, plug it in for about two to three hours to warm the engine and the battery. In case you don’t have a block heater, safely remove the frozen battery and thaw it out in a warm place.

Step #3: Test The Battery

Next, inspect the battery again and ensure that it’s not damaged or leaking its sulfuric acid and distilled water mixture. If it’s in a good condition, here’s how you can test it:

Let’s now take a look at how you could prevent your car battery from freezing.

How Do I Prevent My Car Battery From Freezing?

If you want to prevent your car battery from freezing, here’s what you could do:

A. Park Your Car In A Warm Area

Freezing temperature conditions could leave you with a dead or weak battery. 

To prevent this, here are some safe spaces where you could park your vehicle:

B. Drive Your Vehicle Regularly

Driving regularly warms your engine, the battery, and other components. Regular driving keeps the battery acid moving and helps prevent it from freezing.

C. Switch Off All Electrical Devices Before Turning Off The Engine

To prevent battery drain, switch off the electrical devices like the lights, windshield wipers, and the radio just before switching off your engine.

D. Charge Your Battery Regularly And Have It Checked 

Have your battery regularly checked and charged to help prevent it from freezing. 

While an AGM battery is less prone to freezing temperature conditions, this battery can also freeze under harsh weather conditions.

That’s why, whether you have an ordinary lead acid battery or an AGM battery, always have it checked and charged. In addition to always having a fully charged battery, consider replacing your battery every 3-5 years.

E. Use A Trickle Charger And A Thermal Battery Blanket

If you have a trickle charger, use it every once in a while to avoid having a cold battery. To further protect your fully charged battery, you can get rid of coldness by wrapping the battery with a battery blanket.

F. Use Antifreeze On Your Engine

Regulating the temperature of your vehicle’s engine is another way to prevent your car battery from freezing. To do this, you can use antifreeze — an engine coolant that helps regulate engine temperature during extreme cold temperature conditions.

You’ve learned everything about the causes and solutions to a cold battery. 

Let’s now look at some related FAQs.

5 Common Frozen Car Battery FAQs

Here are some frozen car battery FAQs and their answers:

1. Can I Jump Start A Frozen Car Battery?

This isn’t advisable. 

Jump-starting your frozen lead acid battery with a jumper cable can be dangerous

During this process, the charge could expand the gas inside the battery and cause an explosion. This will scatter battery acid and could inflict harm on you or damage the components of your vehicle.

2. Will My Car Battery Survive After It Has Frozen?

Freezing temperature conditions affect the chemical reaction inside your car’s lead acid battery, and this could reduce its ability to hold a charge. However, if your frozen discharged battery didn’t incur any damage, it could last fine if you properly thaw it out and charge it.

3. Why Won’t My Car Start When It’s Cold Outside?

In addition to having a frozen or weak battery, here’s why your car won’t start in cold weather:

A. Faulty Alternator

Cold temperature conditions can crack the alternator belt and leave you with a faulty alternator and a bad car charging system.

B. Faulty Starter Motor And Thick Engine Oil

In cold weather, the engine oil becomes thick and makes it difficult for the starter motor to spin the engine.

C. Contaminated Fuel Line

Your car’s fuel system might often be contaminated with water, and this could cause combustion problems. Cold weather conditions could also freeze the water in the fuel line and disrupt the flow of fuel — making it hard to start the engine.

4. What Are The Warning Signs Of A Dead Battery?

If you suspect that your battery has issues, here are some warning signs to look out for:

A. The Charging System And Check Engine Lights Are On

If the charging system and the check engine warning light are on, that could mean that either the alternator isn’t recharging the battery, you have poor cable connections, or the battery cells are damaged.

B. The Engine Cranks Slowly Or Won’t Run

If your engine cranks slowly when you turn on the ignition switch, then you could be faced with a dead battery. However, if you have a fully charged battery but your engine won’t run, then you could be dealing with a faulty starter motor.

C. Your Vehicle Has Electrical Issues

The battery powers your car’s electrical components, like the headlights and wipers. If your battery has issues, you could start experiencing dim lights and other electrical problems

D. The Battery Is Swollen Or The Battery Terminal Has Corroded

A corroded battery terminal or a swollen battery are some common signs that show that your battery is past its prime and needs replacement.

For a comprehensive overview of the signs of a dead battery, take a look at our guide on the 10 Signs Of A Dead Car Battery.

5. Why Are Damaged Electric Vehicle Batteries Frozen When Transported?

Damaged lithium ion batteries of electric vehicles can leak chemicals and be susceptible to explosions if they catch fire. 

To prevent this, they undergo cryogenic freezing, which involves freezing with extremely cold substances like liquid nitrogen. When frozen, they’re safe to transport and this eliminates the need for costly explosion-proof boxes.

Closing Thoughts

Thawing your frozen car battery will help get your car up and running again. 

But if your frozen battery looks too dangerous to handle, then you need to start thinking about getting a battery replacement.

In this case, who should you contact to properly resolve your frozen battery troubles?

Try RepairSmith!

RepairSmith’s ASE-certified mechanics perform all kinds of car repairs and replacements right in your driveway. All repairs have a 12,000-mile, 12-month warranty, and you can easily book an appointment online.
To get an estimate of how much your battery replacement will cost, just fill out this online form to get a free quotation!