Many car owners overlook their car’s battery, which shouldn’t be the case since it is a crucial component of their car. A car battery powers the electrical system, providing the energy to power up the car starter, the lights and devices, and many other car components. In sum, a healthy battery starts and completes a good driving experience.
Without a working battery, your car won’t start no matter how hard you try unless you resort to jump-starting. If you have a failing battery, jump-starting will only be a short-term fix as it will soon become dead. Afterwards, it won't be able to serve your car.
This is the reason why you need to know about battery maintenance. Fortunately, keeping your car battery healthy isn't as daunting as it may sound. You can carry out the maintenance procedures by yourself at the garage. Car batteries are also among the car parts that one can replace comfortably without the help of a technician.
How many years do car batteries last?
The average car battery typically lasts for about three to five years. When properly maintained, though, it could serve a car owner for up to seven years. It’s worth noting that factors such as frequency and length of trips, weather conditions (extreme temperatures and coldness), battery size, and driving habits could shorten your battery’s life expectancy.
As good practice when buying a car battery, ensure you check on its manufacture date. A 1-year old battery is more likely to last for a shorter time compared to a recently manufactured one.
Used or discounted batteries are also likely to serve you for a short while before developing battery issues. Avoid buying used batteries if you can even though they cost significantly less. You are likely to spend a lot more on fixing it than you would if you purchased a new one.
How do you keep your car battery running longer?
We recommended that you check your car’s battery regularly and ensure it’s in good condition. Basic car battery maintenance involves checking the charge and specific gravity, cleaning the cables, and inspecting the electrolyte level.
The electrolyte (solution of sulfuric acid and water) should always cover up the lead plates in each cell. Low specific gravity means the battery needs a charge. If you notice that the battery remains low even after charging, chances are you’re dealing with a failing or dead battery. Either way, you need to start thinking about replacing it.
You can extend the battery’s life by following these simple maintenance tips.
1. Cleaning the battery terminals
Cleaning the battery terminals is a straightforward practice that you need to do once every three months or so. Locate the terminals and then turn the bolt connecting the terminals in an anticlockwise direction to remove the wire. With a wire brush, scrub the top of both terminals to remove any rust and corrosion.
After you’re done, wipe the terminals and reconnect the battery terminals. Always start with the positive terminal when connecting the battery before proceeding to the negative terminal. Cleaning your battery terminals helps prevent power supply interruption. It also ensures the bolts are well tightened to the terminals to prevent power drainage.
2. Coating the battery terminals
Cleaning the car battery terminals is not enough, especially if you notice corrosion. You need to coat the terminals using a terminal spray to prevent further deterioration. Reconnect your battery before spraying the coat to protect the terminals as well as the connection point from corrosion.
Another inexpensive way to prevent corrosion is by applying petroleum jelly. Use a medium amount of petroleum jelly on each terminal and around the connectors.
3. Disconnecting the battery when not in use
When you don't have plans of driving your car for several days, detach the connector from the negative terminal of the battery. This practice helps maintain the battery and keep it healthy.
4. Checking the battery fluid level
To check the battery fluid level, remove the vent caps and use a flashlight to look inside each cell. If the fluid lies below the battery plates, top it up using distilled water. Wipe off any excess fluid poured on top of your car battery before putting the caps back.
Do not use tap water. It contains dissolved minerals and may affect the battery’s performance and lifespan. You should check the fluid level every four to six months.
5. Wrapping the battery with a warmer
When it’s cold, we humans put on warm and heavy clothes to warm up. Extreme coldness usually affects the battery’s performance and ultimately shortens its life. A cold car battery may have difficulty supplying enough power to start up your car. If you live in a cold region, you can buy a warmer for it. The wrap will prevent it from ‘dying’ in the cold.
6. Securing it to prevent vibrations
A car battery needs to be stable in the vehicle to prevent vibrations that could damage it over time. If your car is not firmly held or shakes when you’re driving, tighten up the bolts connecting the tie-down bar and the battery. After tightening up the hold-down, test your battery by shaking it and see if it’s set in place firmly.
7. Recharging regularly
A car battery needs to be charged regularly to keep it in good working condition. If you let your car sit idle for long, the battery will slowly start losing its charge. To keep the battery healthy, drive your vehicle for a distance of about 10 km twice a week to enable the alternator to recharge the battery.
You can buy also buy a car battery charger to charge the car’s battery once in two to four months. Overcharging a battery or not charging the battery above its ideal level can shorten its life.
You can see that car battery maintenance isn’t an uphill task. However, take note that these tips may not work at all if you already have a failing battery. In such a case, you would need to replace it.
If you're in the market looking for a new one or other car replacement parts, a fast and effective way would be to go to Carpart.com.au and use its part finding tool. Request an auto part now and wait for the quotes coming your way.