The car battery is an essential part of your car. From getting your car started in the morning to help you charge your phone while traveling, the battery provides the zap your car needs to keep rolling that’s why it is important to know how a battery works and how long will it last. Your car battery does the important job of converting chemical energy into electrical energy. The battery should easily last 3 to 5 years, but we see many people changing their car’s batteries every 2-3 years. Why does this happen and what can you do to prolong the life of your battery? We will be discussing simple tips that can help you maximize the life of your battery, which is easy to do and any layman who doesn’t know anything about cars can perform.
1. Monthly inspection of terminals
One of the most common problems of a car battery is the buildup of Sulfur or corrosion around the battery terminals. What corrosion does is that it destroys the connection between the battery and the car. With the excessive buildup of corrosion, it can even eat up your battery’s terminal, which can cause great inconvenience if you are at home with no automotive shop nearby. Corrosion or Sulfur buildup can easily be treated by pouring hot water around the terminals or a Do It Yourself (DIY) paste (one-part water and three parts baking soda) over the corroded areas and a scrubbing it a little using an old toothbrush. Be sure to dry the terminals afterwards and rub some grease or some petroleum jelly to prevent further corrosion.
2. Don’t use any car accessories with the car turned off
Another common cause of premature battery failure is using electrical accessories of the car before turning the ignition on or driving the car. When the car is running, the alternator generates current and charges the battery when there is a voltage drop. When the car is off, usage of electrical accessories will drain the battery without it being recharged. This is very important for the battery’s health as batteries are not designed to be used this way. Car batteries are designed to provide a burst of current for ignition purposes and not meant to provide prolonged power to the electronics. You may use simple accessories like charging your phone or keeping the parking lights/hazards on if required, but be sure not to use accessories like headlights, stereo, infotainment system etc. when the car is turned off.
3.Secure battery terminal and quality cables
The battery is supposed to be fastened/secured at all time. It can be very dangerous if the battery is moving around or vibrating, which can cause damage to the battery itself and create the risk of short-circuiting. The same could happen to you if you have low-quality battery cables or even if they are not connected properly. So, make sure you have a secure connection as well.
4.Protection from extreme temperature changes
One of the most ignored maintenance activities for a car battery is protecting it from extreme temperature changes. Since the operation of a car battery is chemical based, so temperature plays a very important role. Heat accelerates the chemical activity inside the battery and speeds up the internal corrosion within the cells and reduce the lifespan of the battery. Same is the case for extra cold temperature. It’s the exact opposite of heating up, heat speeds up the chemical reaction, and cold temperature will slow the chemical reaction, that is why in winters the battery becomes a bit sluggish, even if it is charged. So, make sure that your car is covered in summers as well as winters.
5. Check battery’s water level
Today you can go ahead and buy a dry maintenance free battery, but they can be expensive for some people. Since the majority of the people use lead-acid batteries and the same are installed in our cars from the factory, so we need to maintain its water level. You should at least check once a month if your car’s battery needs refilling of water or not. Be sure to use only distilled water.
6. Make sure your battery doesn’t overcharge
You need to make sure you never overcharge your battery. Lead-acid batteries release hydrogen and oxygen gasses when they are overcharged which can cause two major problems that are, your battery might explode, and breaking the composition of the water in the battery, drastically reducing its lifespan. Most of the cars come with a voltage regulator, which measures the voltage from the alternator, if this part goes bad, it can overcharge the battery; increasing the risk. To measure the voltage of the battery you can simply buy a voltmeter which is not that expensive and one of the must-haves tool to keep.
7. Limit short rides
You may have never thought that starting your car and running to the nearby market would create any problem, but it can. Short rides prevent your car’s battery from getting fully charged. Your car draws a huge amount of current to start and the alternator recharges that battery, but it takes time, constant starting of your car without traveling some distance can lead to a discharged battery. So be sure to take your car out if you plan to drive it for some nominal distance.
8. Test your battery often
Precaution is very important if you don’t want to be stuck in an uncomfortable situation. It’s better to keep a voltmeter and check your car’s battery every month when you do your regular maintenance, so that you know pre-hand if your battery is going to die soon.
9. Don’t perform any unnecessary electrical modification
One of the biggest causes of reduced battery life is unnecessary electrical modifications which draw extra current. Over here a common culture is to install HID’s and those too of 100-200W, which are far higher than the recommended specifications for the car. Same is the case with installing sub-woofers and bigger speakers that draw a lot more current. Not only can these modifications reduce the life of your battery, but also cause a fire so it’s better to keep your car in its stock condition.
10. Check your alternator
If you are doing everything that has been mentioned above and still your car’s battery is not charging properly, then you need to take a look at your alternator. If your alternator has gone bad or is faulty, it can lead to the inefficient charging of your battery, leading to a shorter lifespan of your battery.