You’re probably all too familiar with that sinking feeling you get when you hop in your car, ready to go, you turn the key and, instead of the roar (or hum) of your engine, you hear that daunting “click-click-click!” That’s probably a dead battery, which means you either need a jump, some maintenance or a new battery, all of which require time (which you might not have if you were rushing out the door), and, in some cases, money. But this terrible inconvenience can often be avoided with just a few simple preventive steps.
In this blog we’ll give you some insider tips on how to keep your car battery healthy year-round, even in the cold this winter. Follow these tips to save the life of your battery, and to save yourself some time and money!
Tip #1 Keep Your Battery Charged
Car batteries are happiest and healthiest when they are kept as near as possible to a 100% charge. If your car will be left sitting for an extended period of time, crank it and let it run at least 15-30 minutes, once per week. Or, if that won’t be possible, consider getting a trickle charger to keep your battery charged when it’s not in use.
Tip #2 Drive Longer Distances
Since batteries are healthiest when charged, taking longer drives is a great way to keep your battery healthy since it recharges itself while the car is running. Short trips actually take a heavier toll on your battery, since the majority of the power usage happens when you crank the car. Then, the battery does not have sufficient time to recharge if you only drive for short distances. Try to string as many of your errands together as possible, if you can leave your car running for each one. So for today’s errands, go through the drive-through at the bank and the pharmacy, and pick up your takeout curb-side if you can!
Tip #3 Beware of Power Vampires
Of course we all know it’s a big no-no to leave your lights on when the engine isn’t running, but did you know that there are other power hungry items in your car that can slowly drain the battery when the car isn’t running? If you have adaptors, chargers, interior lights, entertainment devices or other electronics plugged in or in use inside the car, these items can slowly drain your battery, reducing its charge, and therefore, the life of your battery. When you get out of the car, always unplug those gadgets and make sure you hit the off switch on all your interior and exterior lights!
Tip #4 Keep Your Battery Secured
Car batteries should always be kept securely fastened with an approved battery clamp. A loose battery is subjected to stronger vibrations and knocks, and this violent movement can cause damage to the battery plates or internal components, potentially causing short circuits or other issues. It’s equally important to be sure that your battery cables are properly secured, otherwise the connection will not be sufficient to access the charge needed to start your engine. If you notice that your battery or battery cables are loose, tighten them right away if you know how to do so safely, or ask your mechanic for help.
Tip #5 Clean Your Car Battery
Over time, your car battery will naturally corrode, but if left unchecked, this corrosion can reduce the life of your battery. A simple way to extend the life of your battery is to keep it clean, which you can do with a simple mixture of baking soda and water or an ammonia-based window cleaner. Using a wire brush (or even an old toothbrush, if that’s all you have!), scrub the battery terminals with the baking soda and water mixture, but be sure your brush is only damp, not dripping wet. Try not to leave any baking soda residue behind since this can actually contribute to corrosion. When you’re finished, dry off the battery with a clean cloth and carefully reconnect the cables. If you’re not comfortable doing this on your own, ask your mechanic for assistance.
Tip #6 Temperature Control
Extreme heat and cold can shorten the life of your battery. Keeping your car in a covered, enclosed, or better yet in a climate-controlled space can protect it from the harmful effects of extreme weather, ensuring that your battery makes it through as many seasons as possible. In the summer, try to keep your car in a shaded, cool space. And in the winter, keep your car in a covered or preferably enclosed space to keep it as warm as possible. Tip #7 Perform Regular Battery Maintenance
It’s no secret that regular maintenance is essential to extending the life of your car, but the same can be said for your car battery. Most newer car batteries don’t require you to add water, but for older batteries, if you happen to have one, be sure to use distilled water when needed.
To avoid the inconvenience of unexpected battery failure, be sure to replace your battery every 3-4 years. If you notice your battery starts to fail, check the manufacturer warranty and your purchase date and contact them if your battery is still under warranty. If you’re due for a new battery, don’t delay, otherwise you might get stranded or stuck at home at an inconvenient time! If you notice your battery light on your dashboard, you don’t necessarily need a new battery—there could be several explanations for this—but you should definitely see your mechanic right away to resolve the issue.
Follow these pro-tips to keep your car battery healthy and extend its life as long as possible. You can get in your car each day and, instead of sitting there with a grimace of dread on your face, you can turn that key with confidence and be on your merry way! For more tips from the pros at Metropolitan Garage, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our blog.