Owning a car means knowing how to care for it, inside and out. To maintain your vehicle’s longevity and performance levels, you need to be armed with the right information. One key aspect of car maintenance is battery care, which many drivers overlook until there’s an issue or emergency situation caused by a dead battery.
To ensure your car runs on full power all year round, here are 10 things you should be aware of about car battery maintenance and best practices determined by experts in the automotive industry.
10 Tips for Car Battery Maintenance
- Change battery every four years
- Check fluid level regularly
- Clean terminals with water and baking soda
- Use terminal spray to prevent corrosion
- Tighten hold-down to secure battery
- Conduct battery load test periodically
- Keep battery warm in cold with heater or insulation
- Secure battery cables properly
- Avoid long periods of car inactivity
- Avoid overcharging battery
1. Change battery every four years
It’s recommended that car batteries be changed every four years, or sooner if problems arise. There are no hard and fast rules about when to replace a battery, but as a general rule of thumb, every four years is a good starting point.
2. Check fluid level regularly
Acid stratification can occur when the battery is not fully charged or experiences shallow discharges, and this can cause serious damage to the battery over time.
To prevent this, be sure to check the acid level of your battery every six months and add distilled water to cover the plates if the electrolyte levels are low and the plates are exposed.
3. Clean terminals with water and baking soda
By using a mixture of water and baking soda, you can easily scrub away any corrosion or build-up that has accumulated on the terminals. Remember to always disconnect the negative terminal before the positive one, and use a hard-bristle brush to thoroughly scrub the terminals.
Once you’re done, wipe them clean with a wet rag to ensure that all the residue has been removed.
4. Use terminal spray to prevent corrosion
After cleaning your battery terminals, it’s important to protect them from further damage. Simply hold the can of terminal spray about 4 inches (10 cm) away from the terminal and spray until the connection is coated. Once one terminal is sprayed, repeat the process on the other. Don’t forget to spray the terminals once the battery is reconnected to keep them protected.
5. Tighten hold-down to secure battery
Without a secure hold-down bar or pad, your battery may be subjected to excessive vibration, leading to potential damage or a shorter lifespan. So, to keep your car running smoothly and avoid any unexpected breakdowns, always check and tighten the hold-down bolts as needed during your routine maintenance checks.
6. Conduct battery load test periodically
To ensure your battery stays in tip-top shape, it’s important to conduct a battery load test at least once a month. This test helps determine if your battery is properly charging, even in freezing temperatures, which is crucial during those harsh winter months. And the good news is, this test can easily be performed by a mechanic.
Related: How to fix a dead car battery?
7. Keep battery warm in cold with heater or insulation
Did you know that cold weather can cause your battery to freeze and potentially damage it?
To avoid this outcome, invest in a battery heater or insulation to keep your battery warm and protect it from condensation damage. You can try using insulated fabric or rubber wrapping to help maintain an optimal temperature, and avoid any potential damage to your battery.
8. Secure battery cables properly
If your vehicle has loose cables, they may come in contact with other metal parts of the engine, causing corrosion and shorting out of electrical circuits. That being said, always make sure that all terminals are securely fastened and that no cables are touching any moving objects before starting up your engine.
Related: Symptoms Of Loose Battery Cables
9. Avoid long periods of car inactivity
To keep your battery charged and prevent it from getting drained, it’s recommended that you avoid leaving your car inactive for long periods of time. In fact, experts suggest driving your vehicle at least every three days to prevent battery discharge.
10. Avoid overcharging battery
Overcharging can damage the plates inside the battery, and these damages can be quite costly to fix. To ensure that your battery doesn’t get overcharged, keep a close eye on its voltage levels while charging. Monitoring the voltage levels every half an hour will help you prevent overcharging, and it’s a good habit to get into.
FAQs about Car Battery Maintenance
How long does a car battery last?
Generally speaking, the lifespan of a car battery is anywhere from three to four years. However, this can vary depending on environmental factors and how well it’s cared for.
How often should I replace my car battery?
Service experts estimate that a car battery should be replaced every 3-4 years, as its capacity will gradually decrease over the course of time.
What are the signs of a dying car battery?
Some telltale signs of a dying battery include a slow engine crank when starting up, a clicking sound when turning the key, and dim headlights. Additionally, you might experience issues with other electrical components in the vehicle, and the dashboard warning light may become illuminated. If you happen to notice that the battery case is swollen, that’s another indication that it’s time to replace the battery.
What causes a car battery to die?
There are various reasons why a car battery can weaken and eventually fail. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can take a toll on your battery’s lifespan. If the battery is constantly drained without being properly recharged, it can also weaken over time. Corrosion can occur on the battery terminals, causing a loss of electrical power. Finally, if it’s not properly secured with a hold-down bar or pad, the battery can be subjected to excessive vibration and cause damage.
In conclusion, there are many ways to ensure your car battery remains in optimal condition for as long as possible. From regular fluid checks to keeping your battery warm in cold weather and avoiding overcharging it, these ten tips will help you extend the life of your vehicle’s battery and keep it running efficiently all year round.
However, if you suspect that your battery may be having issues or is showing signs of corrosion, contact a qualified mechanic immediately for further advice. Thanks for reading!
I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.