Automotive

Does a Frozen Car Battery Mean It is Ruined?

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  • Feb 23rd, 2007 12:40 am
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Oct 5, 2003
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Does a Frozen Car Battery Mean It is Ruined?

I hadn't drove my car for 3 weeks as I almost always take the bus. I went to drive it the other day and it was totally dead. I started it using my booster pack and then after driving and letting it run for 1.5 hours I turned it off and it would not start up. Where I live we've been getting hit with some -32 weather the last couple weeks, so i am guessing the battery went dead and is now frozen inside.

I never plug my car in, but tonight i plugged it in and am hoping that my heated battery blanket will defrost my battery and then tommorrow i'm going to try charging it with a battery charger.

My question is: if the battery froze solid inside is it ruined, or should it work after defrosting and charging?

The battery is only 2 years old and it has a 3 year total replacement warrenty and a 9 year prorated battery. So if it is ruined i'll exchange it for a new one, but it is a pain the the ass to get out, so i'd rather it not be ruined instead of having to replace it in -30 weather.
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Jan 8, 2006
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do you store the car outside or in the garage?.............since it's under warranty i would replace it though.
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Andro wrote:
Feb 14th, 2007 9:43 pm
do you store the car outside or in the garage?.............since it's under warranty i would replace it though.


It is stored outside
Sr. Member
May 9, 2003
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You may be able to get a charge out of it after it is thawed, and recharged. However you must realize that the battery is now permanently damaged, so give yourself some peace of mind and pick up a new one once the weather gets warmer (if you DIY), or take it to a garage and get it done.
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bizzyseller wrote:
Feb 14th, 2007 10:54 pm
You may be able to get a charge out of it after it is thawed, and recharged. However you must realize that the battery is now permanently damaged, so give yourself some peace of mind and pick up a new one once the weather gets warmer (if you DIY), or take it to a garage and get it done.

Ya, i guess i'll get a new one under warrenty and replace it myself. Last time it took me 30 minutes to get this battery in. It is a tight fit, plus i have a heated battery blanket that makes it even harder to get in. It is supposed to warm up next week. Maybe i should have used my battery blanket and i wouldn't have this problem, but i guess it is a waste to leave a car plugged in for a couple weeks if it wont be used.
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Jan 2, 2005
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woah! woah! woah! before you waste your time of taking the battery back to the store and having to haul it all the way home because the store is going to tell you there is nothing wrong with it - make sure that battery is fully recharged and that you plug in your car for a minimum of 2 hours prior to starting it in -32C weather. There shouldn't be anything wrong with a 2 yr old battery if you weren't having any other problems with it.
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162 wrote:
Feb 15th, 2007 12:45 am
woah! woah! woah! before you waste your time of taking the battery back to the store and having to haul it all the way home because the store is going to tell you there is nothing wrong with it - make sure that battery is fully recharged and that you plug in your car for a minimum of 2 hours prior to starting it in -32C weather. There shouldn't be anything wrong with a 2 yr old battery if you weren't having any other problems with it.
This is strange! I plugged my car in overnight (block heater and battery blanket) and this morning it started right up without even putting it on the charger. Last night when i plugged the car in the battery almost didn't have enough power to turn on the interior lights.

Can someone explain how this is possible?
Sr. Member
Aug 31, 2004
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Ottawa
Justin
If the battery is otherwise ok and the age of it suggests this, thaw out battery (bring it inside) or as you have done with the battery blanket (heated), recharge and it will be fine. I have charged a frozen battery after a boost by just using the electrical system over a 200 mile drive in minus 20 weather, the battery will thaw with engine heat.

However, all batteries expire and I have been used to 6 - 8 years of life in a battery. If the battery has come of age, it is dead. Also, ensure your charging system is actually charging the battery when in use. You will know this if you place a new battery in the car and it freezes also - not charging is a probable cause.

I suggest you have lots of life in your battery and maybe make more use of the battery blanket.
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Sep 20, 2003
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Richmond
watch out for any acid leaks on the connectors on the batteries. when batteries freeze there's a possibility that the seals will crack and leak acid slowly.
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Justin wrote:
Feb 15th, 2007 11:42 am
This is strange! I plugged my car in overnight (block heater and battery blanket) and this morning it started right up without even putting it on the charger. Last night when i plugged the car in the battery almost didn't have enough power to turn on the interior lights.

Can someone explain how this is possible?
Because it was super cold outside. A battery stores energy by an electrical-chemical process. It is highly influenced by temperature and the colder it is, the harder for the chemisty to react to give you the required current to start your car.

How do you know your battery was actually frozen? When a battery freezes, it's electrolye expands and its damaging the plates. Is there any buldges around the sides? Any damage you can see? Also do you know what type of lead acid battery is it? Is it a standard lead acid, AGM, or sealed/maintenance free? AGM batteries have small amounts of liquid electrolyte and can prolong cold exposure. They are typically used in cold climates.

PERCENT CAPACITY vs. TEMPERATURE
Image
As you can see, at -30C. Your battery is reduced by 70% of its full charge capacity. GOOD luck starting an engine.

I personally would try to get a new one (if possible.) A battery sitting in a car for 3 weeks, no charge at -30C will dramatically reduce its life. Maybe not today, not tomorrow, but in a couple of months.
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Jan 2, 2005
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Justin wrote:
Feb 15th, 2007 11:42 am
This is strange! I plugged my car in overnight (block heater and battery blanket) and this morning it started right up without even putting it on the charger. Last night when i plugged the car in the battery almost didn't have enough power to turn on the interior lights.

Can someone explain how this is possible?
The battery must have not been completely dead for that to happen - the blanket would also help out big time - there's nothing wrong with the battery just remember to plug the car in when the temp drops to -30C. Occasionally vehicles will start without being plugged in - but often they don't. Be careful with these threads too - sometimes you get some wrong advice from those thinking they're backyard mechanics as well. Good Luck!
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162 wrote:
Feb 17th, 2007 8:39 am
there's nothing wrong with the battery
How do you know that... with such confidence?
A battery is a funny system. It can seem to work today... and tomorrow will totally clunk out. Or it may work for another 2 years. We will never know.

You can assume your battery is perfectly fine. But again you will never know.
If I were you, I'd try to make an effort to see if it can get replaced. It's all up to you.

162 wrote:
Feb 17th, 2007 8:39 am
sometimes you get some wrong advice from those thinking they're backyard mechanics as well. Good Luck!
I don't think anyone here gave any wrong advice. I dunno why you said that. Rude. It seems everyone here is trying to help him. Why wouldn't you want to return a battery that has been exposed to such a condition? Are you the manager of his battery store and don't want him to return it?


I am a huge backyard mechanic :)
I love working on my car and my motorbike.

But I am an electrical engineer. I work with batteries all day. We did a study analysis on different PV Lead acid batteries operating in Alaska, they were exposed to subzero temperature for a month. Most clunked out. However, the higher end AGM and GEL batteries work pretty good in that type of environment. Most car batteries aren't on that design level in quality.

Like I said several times, it's a totally unkown call. But I would totally make an effort to see if I can get it replaced. Worst thing that can say is no.
Jr. Member
Dec 5, 2005
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Saskatoon
162 wrote:
Feb 17th, 2007 8:39 am
The battery must have not been completely dead for that to happen - the blanket would also help out big time - there's nothing wrong with the battery just remember to plug the car in when the temp drops to -30C. Occasionally vehicles will start without being plugged in - but often they don't. Be careful with these threads too - sometimes you get some wrong advice from those thinking they're backyard mechanics as well. Good Luck!
majesus wrote:
Feb 17th, 2007 12:35 pm
How do you know that... with such confidence?
A battery is a funny system. It can seem to work today... and tomorrow will totally clunk out. Or it may work for another 2 years. We will never know.

You can assume your battery is perfectly fine. But again you will never know.
If I were you, I'd try to make an effort to see if it can get replaced. It's all up to you.



I don't think anyone here gave any wrong advice. I dunno why you said that. Rude. It seems everyone here is trying to help him. Why wouldn't you want to return a battery that has been exposed to such a condition? Are you the manager of his battery store and don't want him to return it?

Hmmm...a guy from Vancouver and a guy from Saskatchewan talking about batteries in cold weather.......wonder who has more experience with that. :D
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