How to Keep Your Vehicle Batteries Charged All Year Round

Your vehicle’s battery provides the crucial energy to start the engine and power electrical systems. A weak or dead battery is hugely inconvenient and can leave you stranded. But proper battery care helps maximize lifespan and ensures reliable starts every time you turn the key.

Understanding Battery Charging

Vehicle batteries, whether lead-acid or lithium-ion, slowly discharge when not in use. This happens faster in extreme hot or cold temperatures.

While driving, your alternator recharges the battery by providing a constant flow of voltage. But batteries inevitably lose charge sitting idle, especially over longer periods like vehicle storage. This is why seasonal charging and maintenance is so important.

Year-Round Battery Care

Batteries prefer a middle-ground temperature of around 70°F for optimum charging and longevity. Too hot and excessive battery fluid evaporation occurs. Too cold, and the chemical reactions required for charging slow way down. With year-round battery maintenance, you can counteract temperature extremes.


With warmer weather, corrosion happens faster on battery terminals because of fluid evaporation. The solution is to regularly clean off any powdery blue-green deposits using a stiff brush dipped in a baking soda/water solution. Once clean, protect the terminals with a thin coating of dielectric grease to prevent future buildup.

Hot summer temperatures over 90°F accelerate internal battery discharge. Parking in shaded areas and minimizing electrical accessory usage helps prevent excessive drain during peak heat.


Cold slows battery charging, leaving you more susceptible to dead batteries when temperatures plummet below freezing. It is smart to have your battery’s state-of-charge professionally assessed before winter hits using a voltage meter.

For vehicles driven infrequently over winter, invest in a quality trickle charger or automatic battery maintainer to keep the battery topped up between uses. The experts at Clore Automotive say that a 4-bank battery maintainer will allow you to simultaneously maintain multiple vehicles or even larger banks in RVs and boats.

Battery Charging/De-Sulfation

Over time, batteries naturally lose their ability to efficiently accept and hold maximum charges due to sulfate buildup on the internal cell plates. This increases internal resistance, leading to poor starting power or total failure.

Occasional battery de-sulfation using a specialized charger can help. De-sulfators employ high-frequency pulses to dissolve and remove those sulfate deposits, restoring the battery to a like-new state capable of full charges again.

Trickle/Float Charging

Leaving a battery charging at a continuous high amperage for extended durations can actually boil off excessive fluid and damage cells over time. This is why trickle charging or float charging is much better in the long term.

Trickle chargers provide a slow, steady voltage drip to counteract self-discharge in parked vehicles. Float chargers monitor the battery and only engage when voltage drops too low.

Both options keep batteries continuously maintained at the ideal charge level, extending their lifespan. Smart chargers are also safe for long-term use without risks of overcharging.

Jump Starting Safety

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you will still end up with a dead battery. If jump-starting with another vehicle or portable jump pack, be sure to:

  • Connect red positive to positive, black negative to metal ground away from battery to avoid sparks.
  • Only jump-start with the same nominal voltages – 12V to 12V, 24V to 24V, etc.
  • Turn off unnecessary electrical loads before jump-starting to avoid power spikes.
  • Let the vehicle providing jumper power keep its engine running.


Avoiding the hassles and costly risks of a dead battery is well worth the small effort of routine charging and maintaining. With a few basic precautions, your vehicle’s battery power will stay reliably charged year-round.

Author Image
Martha Mueller