Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Can a Car Battery Freeze?

asked by on

Can a car battery freeze?

A: A new or nearly new car battery in most of ...

A new or nearly new car battery in most of today’s vehicles is fully charged if the voltage is at about 12.6 volts. When a battery starts to age the voltage that it can store will start to be less and less until the battery cannot hold a charge at an acceptable level for the automotive systems to operate correctly.

A fully charged battery of 12.6 volts should be able to withstand a cold temperature of about -76 degrees Fahrenheit. The battery can lose about 30 percent of its power when the temperature falls to 32 degrees F and can lose 50 percent when the temperature falls below freezing. A fully charged battery can withstand the temperature about 12 to 24 hours and then will start to drop power until the temperature drop kills the battery and it will freeze.

If you keep a small trickle charge going into the battery during freezing temperatures, it will help keep the battery warmer and help prevent freezing the battery. To help protect your battery from the below freezing temperatures you could keep the vehicle inside a garage along with keeping it fully charged. When the battery is below 100 percent charged, the battery electrolyte can start freezing at 32 degrees F.

If a battery freezes then the battery case may swell and crack. A cracked case will leak out all or most of the electrolyte fluid when the temperature warms. This will cause battery acid damage to the area of the spill and you will need to have the battery replaced. If the battery did not crack yet, allow the battery to thaw completely, then recharge and test it before use.

Winterizing your battery by having the cables cleaned and tested will help prevent problems with the battery when the temperature starts to drop in your area or where you are going. If the battery is weak or failing, then have it replaced now before it leaves you stranded.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Flat towing / locate accessery position of key

In order to tow this vehicle behind an RV you will want to have the vehicle in neutral with the key in the off poition. When the vehicle's transmission is in neutral, the steering wheel is unlocked. This will enable...

Q: My car starts and then dies several times before it will stay running, but only when it's cold

Hi there. One of the most overlooked issues that can cause hard starting when it's cold is a malfunctioning engine coolant temperature sensor. If the coolant level is low, the coolant temperature sensor can send false information to the computer,...

Q: No one seems to know what to do or want to make the effort to find a solution.

Well, you're likely very far from a circumstance where you need to give up and get another car. Old cars do require more maintenance and repairs than new cars so some of the issues you are describing are just part...

Related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...