It’s probably the simplest part of your car. It knocks the vehicle into working mode by infusing the engine with power. It also powers all the electrical devices in your car, such as music player, lights, chargers, air conditioning system.
But when it dies, it leaves you helpless. The car may be otherwise completely healthy, but it cannot move.
So, many inexperienced motorists wonder what can they do to extend the battery’s lifespan, and what shouldn’t do if they don’t want it to drain suddenly.
A new battery should last up to five or even six years if treated right. The problem is, not only do you have to use it reasonably, but the weather conditions would have to be ideal. This means that in real life full of rain, snow, frost and the hot summer sun, the battery will probably get to live for two or three years before it starts to collapse.
First, let’s see what your car battery doesn’t like, and then we’ll check out what you can do to help it.
- Don’t leave your car to sleep outside of a garage. True, sometimes it is inevitable, but it’s up to you to make sure it doesn’t happen often. Not to be able to start the engine on a frosty winter morning is a common thing. But it’s not just about the cold – believe it or not, ESPECIALLY hot weather can affect the battery’s health and lifespan. So, the culprit for your battery’s winter death is probably the heat it endured during the past summer! Hot temperatures can cause the battery fluid to evaporate, thus shortening its life and functionality.
- Don’t play too much while the engine is off. It’s a great privilege of modern times that you don’t have to freeze or boil (or get bored) to death in the cabin of your comfortable vehicle while waiting for someone to show up. So, you listen to some music, charge your phone, while the A/C or the heating systems are on. Whereas it’s perfectly alright to use this privilege, turn the engine on a little bit, so the battery gets some support.
- Don’t forget to turn off the lights. Sounds like something our dads have taught us while explaining to us that we should economize in life? Not exactly. Leaving headlights (or any other lights) on when you get home after a long workday will most certainly kill your battery overnight. All of us are a little bit absentminded in the evenings. Just don’t let it create more problems for you in the morning.
- Don’t just wait for the battery to die. So many drivers neglect it or forget it, until one day they turn the ignition key to an unpleasant surprise. You should check out your vehicle’s electricity system at least twice a year with a mechanic – preferably in the fall (after the strenuous string of hot summer afternoons) and spring. Bear in mind that it’s not unusual for the battery to suddenly fail without any warning signs.
- When removing the battery, never disconnect the positive cable first. If you do it yourself, keep in mind that negative comes first. You should remember this if you don’t want to cause a short circuit.
- Train your ears, eyes and nose to notice the signs of demise. Does the engine crank slowly when starting? Are the headlights somewhat murky? Is the battery light on your dashboard on? Maybe the battery just needs recharging or cleaning. If there are no known issues with it, maybe there’s even a parasitic drain, which is hard to find without an expert, especially if you are a proud owner of a modern car. There are many other warning signs: a strange sulfur smell, which indicates that the battery is leaking, the battery’s body literally getting swollen which can happen because of extreme heat, etc.
- Protect yourself. Battery sulphuric acid is a dangerous substance that can cause severe burns if it comes in contact with your skin. That’s why you should always wear gloves and safety goggles when dealing with it. This being said, always keep the battery straight and vertical. Otherwise, the acid could spill and endanger the environment.
- Inspect the terminals clamps and clean them every few months. Corrosion is a great enemy of car parts. Luckily, cleaning it from the terminals, cables and battery posts is a no-brainer. All you need is a spoon or two of baking soda, some distilled water and a wire brush. After disconnecting the cables (with the engine turned off, of course), brush both positive and negative battery posts and cable ends.
- Use special grease or spray to protect the battery. These substances are designed to prevent the battery parts from corroding.
- Always keep jumper cables in your trunk. Even if you take all the precautions, chances are it will happen. That’s a situation when keeping an adequate item in your car could mean the difference between paying a handsome fee for towing the car and continuing the journey on your own. If you don’t have that agile savior friend who will come at short notice, just ask a random driver to stop for a while. After you hook up the two batteries and manage to start the engine, drive without further stopping. Nevertheless, you should know that the problem isn’t solved for good, so do a thorough inspection of the battery to determine what’s wrong as soon as possible.
- If you plan to keep the car in storage for a longer period of time, disconnect the battery. Even if your car does absolutely nothing, the battery has a certain amount of self-discharge. This is an utterly normal behavior, but you should do your best to prevent an excessive drain of voltage.
How often do you inspect your car battery? Let us know in the comment section.
Also, if you need help with that, come to our repair shops in Hamilton and Oakville today! We are here for you.