Time To Check Your Batteries!
Fully-charged, our REDTOP®s (and 34M BLUETOP®) will measure about 12.6-12.8 volts and our YELLOWTOP®s (and BLUETOPs except the 34M) will measure about 13.0-13.2 volts (most flooded batteries will measure at least 12.6 volts when fully-charged). Make sure the batteries you aren't using are holding good voltage levels, because whenever any battery is discharged below 12.4 volts and left sitting in that state, sulfation begins to form, which diminishes both capacity and lifespan. That makes a quality battery maintenance device, like the OPTIMA Digital 1200 Charger Maintainer, an excellent investment for any battery that only sees regular use.
Even the batteries you are using need a check-up
Those of you who follow the weather know that much of the nation saw very mild temperatures last winter and unusually hot temperatures last summer. That is a combination that has put many batteries in jeopardy of failing this winter. Extremely hot weather is what really causes damage in batteries, which usually manifests itself in extremely cold temperatures. Last winter's mild temperatures spared many batteries from failure and those that were close to the edge of failure are now hanging on by the thinnest of margins after the hot temperatures much of the nation experienced this summer.
Single-digit temperatures are now sweeping across the Rocky Mountains and much of the upper-Midwest, with cold temperatures in the forecast that much of the nation hasn't seen in quite some time. For batteries that are close to failure, these cold temperatures might push them over the edge, leaving their owners stranded in potentially life-threatening cold weather.
Don't take chances with your battery or your own safety. The New Year's Holiday means much of the nation's workforce will not be working on Monday or Tuesday. However, most national auto parts chains will be open. If you are heading to a bowl-watching party over the next few days, consider carving out an extra 15 minutes and having someone perform a load-test on your vehicle's battery. Many battery professionals and auto parts stores will only charge a nominal fee for this service and some will do it for free.
A battery load test will give you a good idea of the general health of your battery and provide an early warning that it might be time to replace it, if needed. If you do find yourself stranded and needing a jump-start to get going, it's a good idea to fully-charge that battery with a battery charger (and not your vehicle's alternator) as soon as possible. We would also recommend getting that battery tested as soon as possible.
Needing a jump-start might not necessarily mean the battery needs to be replaced, but if you rely on your alternator to fully-recharge a deeply-discharged battery, you could find yourself getting sucked into a cycle of dead batteries and jump-starts until that is the case. Your battery may also have needed a jump-start, because something in your vehicle is slowly discharging it. Whatever the cause is, be sure to track down the source before it leaves you stranded. This YouTube video explains some basic tests that you can perform on your vehicle and offers some suggestions that will help you determine if you need to replace your battery.
Please share this with your friends on Facebook and Google+, so you don't get a phone call from them in a few weeks, asking you to come help them get their car started.