6 Great Battery Maintenance Tips
Did you know that most breakdowns are the result of insufficient power to keep a vehicle in operation?
Maintaining car battery health will not only increase battery lifespan, but also protect you from inconvenient breakdowns that could leave you stranded on the side of the road.
You may be at an even greater risk if you go several days at a time without driving. As your car runs, the alternator recharges the battery, which helps maintain a strong current. As a vehicle sits over time it can lose this charge, sometimes dipping below the threshold for maintaining a current. The more frequently this happens, the quicker your battery life deteriorates, increasing the likelihood of a worrisome breakdown.
Here are 5 things you can do to proactively maintain your battery life:
1. Park in a Garage
Keeping your car battery out of the elements is crucial to maintaining a stable charge. Extreme cold can make it difficult for a car to start; this may be a symptom of waning battery health. Extreme heat actually causes battery fluid to evaporate. This leads to overcharging and drastically shortens battery life.
During periods of temperature extremes, keep your car in an enclosed garage if possible to provide a stable setting conducive to battery health.
2. Keep it Clean
Keeping your battery clean does wonders for its performance. That crusty white build-up that we’re all too familiar with limits the ability of the alternator to do its job. Without a proper charge, your battery will become less effective the longer you use it and will almost certainly result in a breakdown or a car that doesn’t start.
Cleaning your battery can be done with little knowledge and common household tools. Learn more here.
3. Add Water
Mixing water with something that conducts electricity might sound dangerous, but in reality, every car battery requires fluid to help maintain a healthy equilibrium for proper charge.
Some cars have permanently sealed “maintenance-free” batteries that cannot be opened. However, if you have a battery that isn’t maintenance-free, you can add distilled water to increase battery life. This is of particular importance in the summer months when hot weather causes battery fluid to evaporate. Low battery fluid levels will lead to damaged cells from overcharging.
4. Secure it
Unfortunately, car batteries can’t be tossed around in the same manner as your household Duracells or Energizers. They contain several components, including fluid and acid, that can leak if the battery is knocked around enough. This can cause irreversible harm to your engine.
Simply check every now and then to ensure that your battery is seated properly and is not susceptible to being jarred around. Keep the battery tray clean and, if necessary, secure it with some industrial strength rubber bungee cords.
5. Harness the Sun
If you drive infrequently or know that your car will be sitting idle for any length of time, you might invest in a solar charger. There are similar chargers that can run off any wall outlet, but a solar charger is completely independent, renewable, and can be used anywhere.
Once installed, the solar panel simply sits on your dash charging your vehicle battery as needed. Most external chargers on the market will shut off and re-start automatically depending on voltage to prevent overcharging.
6. Tuck It In with an Insulation Blanket
A little-known maintenance tip is to protect your car battery with insulation. In recent years there has been a shrinking of space under the hoods of newer vehicles. This is a result of design that facilitates better aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. The problem is that these design features can actually reduce airflow in an engine.
Insulating your car battery will protect it from both extreme cold and extreme heat. Common sense might have you purchase a bigger battery to maintain charge for longer. However, a bigger battery will only reduce airflow and increase the rate of failure. Your best bet is to go with a smaller battery that leaves room on the tray for an insulation material.
Maintaining your car battery is a simple and easy way to keep your car running well and protect it from breakdowns. In addition to this, when you perform proper maintenance, you’ll keep your car battery out of the landfill for longer. Disposing of the corrosive and toxic material in car batteries is a difficult and time-consuming process. Keeping your vehicle battery in good health is just another way you can make a difference in preserving the environment.