With so much focus on the price of gas at the pump, we often forget the importance of our car’s electrical system. We take this intricate, highly complicated, and vital system for granted all the time; that is, until the car doesn’t start, or starts behaving erratically. As cars become more technically advanced, with features improving performance, safety, and comfort, the demand for a reliable and steady power source becomes more and more crucial. Car batteries come in different sizes and capacities, but they share this in common: they have a limited life span. Here are some tips to prolong your car battery’s life span.
- Driving your car on a regular basis. The interplay between the battery and the engine alternator that occurs when you drive keeps electricity flowing, and maintains the appropriate level of charge. Leaving your car parked in the garage stationary and unused for long periods of time can adversely affect the charge level, and subsequently shorten its life.
- Keeping the battery terminals and case clean and safe. Moisture and dirt can wreak havoc to the battery, and are often the cause of poor battery performance. Make sure that the terminals and battery case are inspected and cleaned every time you bring in your car for a service checkup. Additionally, make sure that the battery is securely fastened, and all connections are tight. Loose connections lead to inconvenient breakdowns or worse.
- Servicing the engine at regular intervals. Since the mechanical and electrical systems work hand-in-hand, a well-kept engine keeps the battery in good condition and improves longevity. Poor mechanical engine condition tends to overload the battery, putting strain on the electrical side of things, consequently reducing performance and life span.
- Avoiding draining the battery. Leaving your car’s sound system, lights, navigation system, and other accessories on (and doing this regularly out of habit) will discharge the car’s battery faster than you might expect. This would require you to recharge a drained battery. Repeated recharging of a battery whose charge has been depleted will significantly reduce the life of the battery.
- Parking your car in the shade. The sun can do damage not just to the paint job, but to the internal components as well. During the warm summer months, heat can accelerate the deterioration of your car’s battery, shortening its lifespan and decreasing its performance. By keeping the car a few degrees cooler, your battery will last longer.
- Monitoring the charging rate. This can be done at major service appointments. When charging the battery, always use a slow charging rate of ten amps or less. Fast charging is not recommended, and can lead to overcharging of the battery and reduced service life. Both under- and overcharging the battery can also void the warranty.
When jump-starting or conducting maintenance on your car battery, it is important that you handle the battery carefully and responsibly. Batteries carry a significant amount of charge, and mishandling them can have devastating consequences. Always seek the help of a professional mechanic if you are unsure of what to do, or how to go about doing it.