Without a battery, your vehicle is simply a large immovable piece of metal, plastic, rubber, and fabric.
This critical automotive part powers a lot of the electronic features of your vehicle, including the starter motor, power windows, lights, and more.
As the powerhouse of a vehicle, the battery or accumulator is also one of the most expensive automotive parts you have to replace when you need to have it replaced.
Because of this, when you change your car battery, you have to know how to take care of it to extend its life and get the most out of it.
Prolonging the Life of Your Vehicle’s Accumulator
Whether you have only recently gotten a new battery or have had it for years, you can extend its life by following these tips:
1. Drive regularly but avoid short trips.
The alternator, which is the main generator of electric power in vehicles, charges your battery whenever you drive.
When you don’t use your vehicle, the accumulator stays idle and uncharged. And this can hurt the battery.
Because of this reason, you have to drive your vehicle frequently. However, it doesn’t mean taking it out for a 10-minute ride to a nearby convenience store or your favourite café every day.
Doing so will only damage the battery since the short drive won’t be enough to recharge it. It can even cut down its lifespan.
Automotive batteries recharge more efficiently when you drive long distances. They receive a full charge after at least eight hours of use.
If the battery doesn’t receive a full charge, crystalline deposits can form on the negative plates, preventing it from getting enough power when you drive.
However, driving for eight hours every day may be impossible unless your work requires you to travel from one city to another. The best thing to do is take extended trips regularly and be careful when using your vehicle’s electric auxiliary controls.
2. Maintain your sitting automotive battery.
If you won’t use your vehicle for days at a time or you only take it out for a short trip every week, you need to take a few steps to keep the battery healthy, even if it’s idle for long periods.
Below are some tips for taking care of your automotive battery when you don’t use your vehicle often:
- If you have a secure garage, make use of the floor space and other features by parking your vehicle here. However, remember to disengage your vehicle’s security system before leaving. This simple trick prevents the accumulator from getting discharged.
- Do not turn your vehicle on and then off again. This does more harm than good to the engine and the battery itself.
- Invest in a trickle charger. This accessory is designed to be left on a vehicle to recharge the battery for long periods. When connected, it will slowly charge the accumulator, preventing its depletion.
- Get a battery conditioner. A battery conditioner sends small charges to the accumulator to keep it from discharging. Additionally, this accessory dissolves sulphur deposits that promote electrical resistance on the battery plates. These two actions preserve the battery when it is not used for long periods.
But even if you take these precautionary measures, when possible, take out your vehicle for a half-hour drive at least once a week to warm up the engine and circulate the fluids. Ask a family member or friend to do this for you if you are out of town.
3. Clean the battery routinely.
Automotive batteries develop a powdery substance on the part where the cables meet the terminals. Dust, dirt, and grime can also easily accumulate on this part of your vehicle.
These substances can affect your battery’s quality and lifespan.
You can remove the dirt by wiping the battery with a damp sponge and dry cloth. Do this every month to prevent their build-up.
To get rid of the powdery substance, combine an equal amount of water and baking soda. Disconnect cables and apply the paste on the terminals and nearby parts using a toothbrush.
Once done, use a clean brush to remove the residue and wipe the parts dry with a clean towel. You can then reconnect the cables to the terminals.
While doing this monthly chore, check for corrosion. Use the water and baking soda solution and a toothbrush to remove the rust. Rinse the parts with water and wipe them dry with a clean cloth.
If the build-up and corrosion are severe and you can’t remove them, ask a mechanic to clean the battery and terminals during your vehicle’s routine maintenance service.
4. Avoid using electronic accessories when the engine isn’t running.
When your engine is switched off, the alternator is also turned off. This means that when you turn on the headlights, interior lights, and radio, these accessories are powered by the battery.
And this will drain your battery and shorten its lifespan over time.
Because of this, avoid using all electronic accessories of your vehicle when your engine is switched off. Also, make sure all lights are off before getting out of your auto.
Also, always check that your vehicle is locked before leaving it. If it is unlocked, its computer system will continue to run, which can drain the battery.
5. Test the battery voltage regularly.
Testing your battery regularly helps you know if you need to charge it more and save you from an unexpected breakdown while you’re on the road.
A multimeter is the simplest battery tester you can use to measure the voltage, amps, and strength of the accumulator.
If the voltage is below 12.5 volts, you need to recharge the battery, which means you have to take your vehicle for a drive.
Although a multimeter is easy to use, you still need to follow strict steps to test the battery safely.
If you don’t want to do this yourself, have a mechanic test the battery whenever you bring your car to your service centre.
Maintaining your vehicle is also crucial for prolonging the battery’s lifespan. Regular tune-ups, immediate part repairs or replacements, and preventive services can help you keep it functional and prevent discharging and other problems.
Also, have a mechanic check and test your vehicle’s battery during its routine maintenance service.
If you can’t bring your vehicle to a service centre for routine maintenance or suspect your battery is not in good condition, you can have automotive technicians check and carry out the necessary repairs in the convenience of your home.