One mistake can lead to a dead car battery at the worst possible time. But, if you know how and when to maintain your car battery, it’ll last for years and give the peace of mind that it’s always ready for anything.
The following article will introduce you to everything you need to know about battery maintenance including maximizing your vehicle’s battery power, what’s inside a car battery, and what goes into proper care.
What is a Car Battery?
A car battery stores electrical energy to keep cars running when the engine isn’t running or if there’s an accidental loss of electricity from another source such as headlights. This electrical energy runs the car’s accessories (radio/cassette player, lights, etc.) and powers the vehicle’s engine.
A battery, synonym for a “cell,” contains two electrical charged bodies separated by an electrolyte that allows electric current to flow between them when voltage exists.
The electrolyte keeps the two sides of the cell from touching each other so that they can’t conduct each other’s charge and thus can’t short-circuit. A battery lacking electrolytes can cause voltages to build to high levels and overheating in most applications.
How Long Does a Car Battery Last?
The average car battery lasts anywhere from two to five years. Car batteries die at different rates depending on how they’re used and charged. The longer your battery lasts, the more money you’ll save by not replacing it as often.
Although you can extend your car battery life by maintaining it in a proper manner (see this website for how to spot any issues before it’s too late), other factors determine how long it will last. These factors include:
How Often You Use Accessories and Electronics
Using your radio or headlights for prolonged periods can drain a battery all the way down if it doesn’t have enough power to recharge. If you plan on using accessories and electronics when your engine isn’t running, make sure that you turn them off before starting the engine. Or, charge up a battery that has enough power.
How You Care For Your Car Battery
If your battery isn’t treated well enough or doesn’t get enough maintenance, it won’t last as long as it would if you took proper care of it. Ensure that you keep your car battery filled with distilled water, and always check the charging system every now and then. Check for any problems that could be causing a drain on the power generated by the alternator.
The Weather Conditions In Your Area
Extreme cold can damage a car’s battery. Likewise, extreme heat can damage the battery by exceeding the most allowable temperature. You should also keep your car battery away from extreme cold and intense heat sources such as air conditioning vents and hot radiators.
Why Do Car Batteries Need Maintenance?
The simple answer is so they can last longer in your car, and you’ll have less chance of having a vehicle that won’t start.
Suppose a battery discharges and charges without giving it a chance to complete a full cycle. In that case, you can expect to replace it sooner. Some batteries will last for the car’s life, while others might fail after only a year or two of use.
Car batteries fail in other ways besides neglect. To get the most out of your car’s battery, make sure you’re doing everything you can to prevent damage from occurring that could lead to premature failure.
What are the Dangers of Not Maintaining a Battery?
There are many dangers of not maintaining a battery beyond reduced lifespan. Remember Lead-acid batteries are toxic, so keeping on top of their condition is a must.
Acts as an Internal Power Source For the Vehicle
If a battery can’t hold enough energy to run the car, it won’t start the car. Suppose there’s another source of electricity, such as headlights, that draw power from your battery.
In that case, you could also experience engine damage due to a limited power supply. The vehicle may be unable to move at all or could move very slow and make it difficult to drive in a safe manner.
Causes Battery Acid Leaks
The electrical charge pressure can cause the acid to leak out of the battery and onto surrounding metal parts, which may cause a fire.
Your battery will wear out after drawing power from it. If you don’t maintain it, you’ll experience diminished performance.
You won’t be able to use your car’s accessories such as headlights and wipers at all or for extended periods before needing to recharge or replace your battery. You may also experience repeated engine cranking to start up the car if you drain too much power from your car’s battery.
Car Battery Maintenance Tips
There are many ways you can keep on top of your battery’s condition, but below are a select few that will help you on your way to extending the life of your battery.
1) Keep Charging Equipment in Good Working Condition
If you use a trickle charger, check that it’s in and replace the plug if it’s wearing. Don’t leave the charger plugged in all the time, though – this might be a fire hazard as well! If you’d like to buy an automatic battery maintainer for your car, also pay attention to its appearance. Clean your car’s battery terminals at regular intervals to ensure that they are free of corrosion buildup.
If you have a manual charging method, such as cables or jumper cables, ensure they are taut and not frayed or worn before each use. If you notice any wear or damage on your battery terminals or cables, replace them immediately with new parts and trim any loose ends off.
2) Check Your Car Battery at Least Once a Month
If the battery is completely drained, you will have to recharge it for your car to start up. Make sure that you have removed the negative terminal at step one.
It’s easy to mistake for the positive terminal on the other side of the battery, if you don’t pay close attention to which one is which. Ensure your positive terminal (red) is not touching or touching against anything else, such as another battery, battery clamps, or push-buttons.
3) Never Overcharge Your Car Battery
Also, never leave your battery chargers plugged in overnight. Overcharging can cause battery acid leaks and can ruin the cells which actually store the energy. Charging a car battery for too long will actually drain its power and cause it to wear out much faster than it needs to.
4) Don’t Leave a Dead Battery On Your Car for Months
Many people make the mistake of doing this, thinking that they will only charge it when they need to get around again. But this can actually cause permanent damage to your car’s battery. Your vehicle will discharge itself as it sits idle.
This will cause the energy stored in the battery cells to disappear. If you don’t maintain your car’s battery in the correct way, it can become irreversible. But, if you’re diligent about bringing your battery up to full strength, your vehicle should be able to sit for a few hours at a time without the need to plug in or charged.
You can always use a car battery maintenance service if you won’t be located near your vehicle for prolonged periods of time. That way you’ll make sure it’s in good condition all year round.
5) Keep Your Car Battery Cool and Let It Rest
Leaving a dead battery on your vehicle for long periods can actually reduce its power and shorten its lifespan. Make sure that you never leave the battery out on a hot summer day or any other day with a high temperature outside.
6) Always Use Genuine Batteries and Parts
Don’t use a different brand or type of battery or battery charger. You will not be able to keep it, and this can cause dangers to your vehicle.
7) Watch Out For Cheap Batteries (Even If Genuine)
Do not buy cheap replacement car batteries and chargers, especially online. Many places sell poor-quality batteries but charge a high price for them. Avoid buying from these sources to avoid buying upgraded equipment that is of low quality.
8) Charge Your Car Battery Before Parking For a Long Time
If you don’t, your battery will lose its full charge and will have to charge up before you can drive it. The colder the temperature is outside, the longer your battery needs to rest. Car batteries must completely cool off before you attempt to drive it again.
9) Buy Like-For-Like if Possible Or Upgrade To Deep-Cycle
Especially if you’re looking at RV battery maintenance, remember these are also known as deep-cycle batteries. These batteries are also used in Battery Electric Cars (BEV). In the case of the latter, the Lead-Acid battery charges up via the High-Voltage (HV) battery instead of the combustion engine’s alternator.
In theory, there is no such thing as a maintenance-free battery, but if you’re looking for low-maintenance, these can also be a great upgrade in your existing vehicle, as long as you select one that is compatible with your car.
10) Always Check The Battery Attachment Post
If it wears down or shows signs of damage, you may have difficulties starting or charging up your vehicle. If possible, replace this post with one of the same kind and size before putting in your new car battery.
Battery Maintenance is Easy Once You Know How
Car batteries look daunting at first, especially for those unfamiliar with electronics. But as long as you follow the strict safety processes involved with battery maintenance and check at regular intervals, the chances are it will save you more money in breakdown services than replacing the battery!
To learn more about maintaining your car as well as other car tips, keep reading our blog and see what you can find!