Yes, snowmobile batteries can definitely freeze during the winter. Unfortunately, with a frozen battery, you won’t be able to do much on your snowmobile. Because of this particular weather condition, you should prepare ahead of time to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Winter and snow provide the perfect opportunity, and maybe the only time, to use your snowmobile. But whether riding for fun, travel or doing outside winter work, you must have a battery that is in excellent condition. In this article, we will give you all the information you need to properly prepare your snowmobile’s battery for this long-awaited winter season.

What Are The Types Of Batteries Used In My Snowmobile?

There are two types of batteries for snowmobiles. The type of motor vehicle battery will depend on its year of manufacture. Older models may have a lead-acid battery. Newer models will have lithium batteries. These types of batteries operate and behave differently in the cold.

Lithium Batteries

  • These batteries produce energy thanks to the reaction that occurs between lithium and the other components. Lithium is a very versatile material because companies manufacture it in different ways depending on the intended use.
  • Lithium batteries have internal gel fluids that help the passage of electrolytes. Batteries that are rechargeable need this fluid to charge and discharge. This principle means that there must be a specific temperature for the battery to work as expected.
  • When the lithium battery is at the end of its life, two things happen. First, the battery will continue to generate its energy; then, it will not maintain the amperage level. This means the battery will be operational for less time between charges.
  • During extreme cold, the gel inside the battery will not work as well. This gel must be in a liquid state so that the electrolytes can move. When the temperature is very low, the gel will freeze, and the battery will not work correctly.
  • In freezing temperatures, we can use lithium batteries. But, we must do a series of steps to keep this component operational.

Lead-acid Batteries

  • Unlike lithium batteries, lead-acid batteries use clean water as the main additive. As a result, they tend to freeze faster. However, these older battery models can, in some cases, outperform newer models.
  • These batteries work by creating a reaction between lead sulfate and sulfuric acid. Mixing these two ingredients produces water. 
  • These batteries work very well even at temperatures below freezing point. The point to consider is that they are batteries that need the water to be at a certain level. When the water remains at the indicated level, the battery will perform very well. But when it is below, you will notice a significant drop in the performance of the snowmobile.
  • It is not the best practice, but sometimes you can add hot water to the battery to slow down the reaction of its components. The hot water will maintain the initial warmth as long as you use the battery regularly.
  • During cold weather, this battery will work well if it has sufficient fluids. Only when the outside temperatures reach freezing point will the battery stop working.

Is It Bad If A Snowmobile Battery Freezes?

It is essential to know that there is a direct relationship between a discharged and frozen battery.

Frozen Battery = Low temperatures + Discharged battery

When we let the battery discharge, the internal acid decreases, and the level of water increases. A battery with this new ratio of elements is more likely to freeze. 

Freezing the battery can crack the casing, bend the plates and irreversibly damage the battery.

You can store a fully charged battery at freezing temperatures (down to -75° F) without damage. In contrast, a discharged or dead battery can freeze at as low as 27° F.

When you don’t connect the battery to anything, it loses up to one percent of its charge daily when the temperature is 70° F. But if the temperature continues to drop, the daily loss of charge will be more significant.

A Quick Guide To Knowing If Your Battery Is Frozen

  • The more discharged the battery is, the more electrolytes become water.
  • Discharged batteries will freeze between 27° F and 32° F.
  • The frozen battery will be cracked and have bent plates.
  • The sides of the battery would be bulging. This deformation is a clear sign that the battery is frozen and the damage is permanent.

How To Keep The Battery Operational Despite Low Temperatures?

We have three basic techniques to keep the battery functional despite low winter temperatures.

Battery Insulation

When cold temperatures arrive, we will see many snowmobiles with thermal blankets and aluminum foil placed on the batteries. This wrapping creates insulation that will protect the battery and prevent it from reaching dangerously low temperatures.

Another way to insulate the battery is to create an enclosed space inside the engine and battery compartment. This action will prevent cold air from reaching the battery, and fluids will not freeze.

Insulation allows easy battery recharge because you will not have to defrost it. On the other hand, there is a danger of the opposite happening to the battery. Because it is insulated and in warm or hot conditions, there is a danger of temperature rise and fire. We should only insulate the battery when we know what we are doing and the outside temperatures are extremely low.

The Battery And Heating

When the outside temperature is extremely cold, there is only one way to keep the battery at its proper temperature. This can be done by using electrical means such as specialized heating gels, charges, or heaters.

Heating a battery through external means can extend its life, but we can also damage it if we do it incorrectly.

Giving The Battery The Proper Charge

The recommendation is always to charge batteries to their maximum capacity. If we have the battery charged to its total capacity, it will always give its best performance. Even the oldest batteries will perform optimally after they have been fully charged. This method can also be used to ensure that the component does not freeze.

Special Batteries For Cold Climates

Snowmobiles struggle to operate at low temperatures. Additionally, they also face challenges with the vibrations of uneven terrain. Cold and vibrations are the two factors that affect snowmobile batteries the most. 

Cold batteries have less power and can fail when trying to start the engine. The vibrations of the snowmobile when it is running can loosen certain parts of the battery. These misalignments can also shorten battery life.

For all these reasons, experts recommend buying an all-weather, maintenance-free battery. Such a battery makes it possible to drive the snowmobile even on the coldest days and on the roughest roads.

A Final Thought On Snowmobiles And Batteries In Cold Weather

It never hurts to take the necessary precautions when using a snowmobile in freezing weather. Whether we’re out for a drive in a frigid landscape or facing an unexpected snowstorm, we need to prepare our vehicle for these extreme conditions.

The first step to knowing if we will enjoy the winter and its temperatures without any issues is checking the battery. The battery is the heart of the snowmobile. For this reason, the maintenance of this component is a task that we cannot ignore.