Remember the old his and her song? Baby It’s Cold Outside. It was written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and first performed by Loesser and his wife at a party.
Since then it’s become a holiday favorite performed by just about everyone in the music business, from Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton to Sammy Davis and Carmen McRae. Ray Charles sang it with Dionne Warwick at the Grammies, Bette Midler and James Cann teamed up to sing it, as did Willie Nelson and Norah Jones, and James Taylor and Natalie Cole. The only singer who hasn’t performed a version of Baby It’s Cold Outside is Cyndi Lauper – just not her style.
Baby It’s Cold Outside has become a winter staple because we expect it to be cold, we’re ready to bundle up, go outside and make that traditional drive to Grandma’s house for a traditional New Year’s pork and sauerkraut dinner with all the trimmings. Maybe drink a bit of Uncle Fred’s special New Years Grog as we watch serial New Years celebrations from around the world on CNN complete with fireworks, waiting for the big one on Times Square. Right?
But what if we’re driving to Grandma’s house in a two- or three-year-old car with the car’s OEM battery? We make a convenience stop for petrol, snacks, visit the rest room, go back outside and the car’s battery is dead. It’s New Year’s Eve and AAA has limited service trucks on the road. We’re told they can’t get a new battery to us for several hours; maybe not even until the next day (a.k.a. next year).
With the current frigid winter weather blanketing much of the nation it makes sense to protect and care for that one part of the vehicle a driver depends on most every day – the ever-present battery that with a turn of the key gets us started on our journey.
What we forget is that filled with fluid containing mostly water, batteries are susceptible to freezing when the battery is not fully charged. Additionally, cold weather thickens engine oil, forcing the battery to work harder when starting the car. A car battery loses approximately 35 percent of its efficiency when the temperature dips below freezing and close to 60 percent of its efficiency when the temperature falls below zero.
“Motorists should have their battery checked when they learn of an incoming wave of cold weather,” said Interstate Batteries engineering services manager Gale Kimbrough, also known as Mr. Battery. “A fully charged battery is the best defense against cold weather and vehicle non-starts. In cold weather, engines require more cranking amps and batteries are less efficient, reducing their charge acceptance and ability to start an engine.”
Kimbrough recommends special precautions with vehicle batteries this winter:
- Have the vehicle’s starting and charging system tested every three months or every oil change.
- Use a battery charger to maintain charge levels and keep the battery in good condition. If the battery is more than three years old, have it tested more frequently to ensure it can survive the coldest winter months and/or replace it as a preventative measure.
- Have the battery tested before taking a long trip.
- Inspect the battery cables, posts and fasteners. Make sure the cables are in good shape and are secured firmly to the battery. Cable corrosion reduces power from flowing freely from the battery, reducing the power available to start the car.
- Clean the battery terminals with a wire brush or battery cleaner spray.
- Choose the appropriate battery for the vehicle. It should be the correct size and ratings, especially for a vehicle that experiences extremely harsh winter conditions.
- When possible, keep the vehicle in a garage overnight or plugged in, especially in areas with extremely harsh winter conditions. If garage storage is not possible, invest in a battery heater.
- Avoid damage to the battery and keep connections tight.
- If the battery is not a sealed model, check the fluid levels, using distilled water to fill any cells that appear low.
Kimbrough also cautioned anyone working with or around a battery to always wear protective eyewear, remove all jewelry and wear long sleeves to protect skin from an explosion of battery acid.
And remember, the more electrical devices in the car – such as electronic fuel injection systems, electric windows, sun roofs and audio systems – the more power the battery should have. If the car will be exposed to extreme cold, the best guarantee against failure is a battery with a high charge level and adequate cold cranking amps, 500 to 700, depending on the type of engine in your vehicle.
Kimbrough said in just 30 seconds, Interstate All Battery Center locations can provide motorists with a free printout analysis of their vehicle battery condition. In addition to automobile batteries, Interstate All Battery Center offers a line of more than 17,000 different products.
For information about Interstate Batteries, go to < interstatebatteries.com >.