When it comes to your car battery, the one thing that you can be sure of is that sooner or later it will die. The life a car battery averages from three to six years. Lots of factors can contribute to the early demise of your car battery. Today we will share 8 tips that can increase your car battery life.
Park Your Car in the Shade
A battery translates chemical energy into electricity. A 12 volt car battery consists of six cells, each cell producing two volts. The cells are made up of two plates, which are made of lead and lead dioxide, and are submerged in sulphuric acid.
This creates the chemical reaction that produces electricity. High temperatures and high humidity affect the efficiency and the volume of the sulphuric acid in the battery, leading to a quick death. This is why batteries don’t last as long in hot, humid climates.
Under normal operating conditions it’s hard to control the temperatures that your battery is exposed to. The best you can do, especially if you live in a hot climate, is to make an effort to park your car in the shade. Your battery life will definitely be decreased if your car sits in the sun all day while you’re at work.
Fix a Loose Car Battery
If you’re concerned with making your battery last as long as possible, it’s time to pop open the hood and do an inspection. First you need to check that the battery is securely mounted. If the battery is able to jiggle, that vibration will surely shorten its life.
So grab the battery and give it a shake. Be careful. You will most likely get some battery acid residue on your hands when you touch the battery, so wear gloves. If the battery is loose, it’s either missing the factory hold down, or the hold down isn’t properly secured. If you don’t see an easy fix, take it to a pro.
Clean Battery Corrosion
Next, inspect the battery for corrosion. A green or white buildup over the battery terminals is a sign of current leaking through the connection. This current draw will kill your battery. Dirt and grime on top of the battery can also act as a conductor and cause current to leak across the terminals. You can buy a battery cleaner at your local parts store.
The cleaner foams up when you spray it on the battery terminals and on the top of the battery. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it off with low pressure water. Be very careful not to splash the water around.
There is battery acid in that water. You might have to repeat this procedure a couple of times. After cleaning, apply a battery terminal protecting spray to the terminals. This will help to prevent the acid buildup from returning.
Avoid Long Term Use of Accessories While Engine Isn’t Running
While your engine is running the battery is being charged by the alternator. If your charging system is working properly, you really aren’t hurting the battery by using any accessories. I’ve read information on the internet making claims that you can increase battery life by not using your radio or air conditioner while idling.
This is just not true. Your battery should easily be able to handle the exchange of the current you’re using, for the current that the alternator supplies.
You do want to avoid long term use of accessories while the engine isn’t running. The alternator will recharge the battery when you start it up, but the constant drain and recharge cycle will shorten the life of your battery.
Don’t Let Your Car Sit for Days
Inactivity is a real battery killer. Allowing your vehicle to sit for days without running is a death sentence for a car battery. There are ways to save your battery if you own a vehicle that is not a daily driver, and tends to sit for days.
The best way is to use a battery tender. A battery tender is a low current trickle charger. It’s a small easy to use unit that attaches to your battery terminals with small jumper cable like clamps. A battery tender usually turns on at about 11.5 volts, and automatically turns off at about 12.5 volts, keeping your battery perfectly charged.
Another option is to simply disconnect the battery when not on use. This can be a bit cumbersome, and is tough on battery terminals. A better option would be to install a battery disconnect switch. A battery disconnect switch attaches between the battery cable and the terminal. The simpler ones operate with just the turn of a knob or the flick of a switch.
So you park the car, open the hood and switch off the battery, that simple. You will have to reset your radio and your clock when you engage the battery, but that’s a small price to pay compared to the cost of a battery.
Battery disconnect switches are available with a key lock, and some even come with a remote control.
A couple more things:
Combine Short Trips
Short trips are really bad for your battery. Starting your engine draws more current from the battery than anything else you do. The battery needs to recover from that after every start. If you only drive two blocks down the road, the alternator isn’t given the opportunity to recharge the battery.
Buy a good battery.
If you choose to purchase a 75.00 Walmart battery, you’re on your own.
Keep your car maintained.
Address any noise concerns that are emanating from your engine compartment. A squeaky belt could easily hinder alternator operation, and a noisy alternator surely is not working properly.
So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get a good five years out of a car battery. Just a little bit of battery TLC, and mission accomplished.