Car Battery maintenance: 11 small things to make your battery last longer

Car Battery maintenance: 11 small things to make your battery last longer


Most people don’t think about their car battery until it’s too late. A dead battery is one of the most common reasons for a car to not start, but it’s also one of the easiest problems to prevent and fix. Do car batteries need maintenance? Yes, they need to be checked regularly to ensure good battery health. Car batteries are one of those things that we all take for granted. They are just there, working away, day in and day out. But, like all things, they do require a bit of basic maintenance now and then to keep them running smoothly. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to prolong the life of your battery and avoid being stranded.

Does car battery maintenance affect its lifespan?

On average, the lifespan of a car battery is typically 3-5 years, but with proper maintenance, it can last much longer. However, if you don’t maintain your battery properly, it may only last one or two years. Car batteries are like any other vehicle component they need to be maintained in order to achieve their optimal lifespan. For more on car battery lifespan, check out our article on “How Long Does a Car Battery Last?”

Your car’s battery is one of the most important parts of the vehicle. It provides the electrical current that starts the engine and powers all the car’s accessories. A healthy battery will keep your car running smoothly and prevent expensive repairs down the road. As your car’s battery ages, it will become less efficient. If batteries aren’t properly cared for, they can fail when you need them most.

That’s why it’s important to maintain your battery and make sure it lasts as long as possible.

1. Check the acid level.

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If you have a serviceable battery (one with caps that can be opened), one of the most important things you can do to prolong the life of your car battery is to check the battery fluid level regularly. The acid in a car battery can evaporate over time, causing the battery to lose its power. To check the acid level, remove the battery cap and look at the level of the acid. If it is low, add distilled water until it reaches the proper level. Never add acid or electrolyte. It’s important to use distilled water, as tap water can contain minerals that will damage your battery. The acid level in your battery should be checked every four to six months, depending on how hot the climate is where you live.

2. Keep the battery clean.

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Besides keeping the battery clean, you should also keep an eye on the terminals. Over time, dirt and grime can build up with corrosion, which can prevent the electrical current from flowing freely. It will cause the battery to lose power. To clean the terminals, disconnect the negative terminal first, then use a wire brush or sandpaper and some baking soda mixed with water to clean them. Rinse with clean water and dry before reconnecting.

It’s best to prevent the corrosion in the first place. Corrosion happens when the metal parts of the battery are exposed to oxygen, battery acid, and moisture. You can prevent corrosion by coating the terminals with a thin layer of petroleum jelly or Vaseline. This will create a barrier between the metal and the air and prevent corrosion. You can also use a commercial battery terminal protector. Corrosion is the number one enemy of car batteries. Read more about The Best Way to Clean Car Battery Corrosion.

3. Avoid short trips.

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Starting and stopping, the engine uses up a lot of power and puts a strain on the battery, so if you only take short trips, your battery may not have enough time to recharge fully. This can cause the battery to discharge faster than it can recharge. Try to take longer trips whenever possible to give your battery a chance to recharge. It will also reduce your fuel bill if you can plan and combine several trips together.

4. Keep it cool.

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This is one of the most important car battery maintenance tips. Extreme heat or cold can shorten the lifespan of a car battery, so try to keep it in a temperature-controlled environment when possible. Keeping the battery warm in winter and cool in summer will result in less dead car batteries. If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, consider investing in a battery blanket, battery heater or other type of insulation to help protect your battery. A battery heat shield can also help keep your battery cool in hot temperatures. Check out our article on The Benefits of Having a Car Battery Heat Shield.

Cold weather can make it harder for your battery to start the car, so it’s important to keep it warm. Parking in a garage or using a battery blanket can be helpful.

On the other hand, in summer heat can damage the battery, so it’s important to keep it cool. This can be done by parking in the shade or installing a Battery Heat Shield.

5. Tighten battery terminals.

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Vibration of the car can, over time, cause the terminals to become loose, which can cause corrosion and loss of power. This will also increase the power needed to start your car and you may develop starting issues and a shortened battery life. Loose terminals will also prevent your battery from charging properly.

In fact, a loose positive connection can even cause your battery to explode. This is because poor contact between the positive terminals and battery post may create sparks which can then ignite hydrogen gas produced as the battery is charging. Make sure the terminals are clean and tight.

Infographics Eleven (11) Simple Battery Maintainance Tips

6. Tighten battery brackets and hold downs.

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Vibrations from driving can also loosen your battery brackets and hold-downs, so it’s important to check them periodically and tighten as needed. It is important that your battery remains properly secured and doesn’t move around the battery compartment. Too much movement and vibration of your battery will damage the internal connectors and even the battery case. This is a major cause of battery leakage and premature failure of batteries.

7. Test Your Battery Often.

It is recommended to regularly test your car battery even if you don’t have any starting problems. Testing your battery often helps to prolong your battery because you quickly become aware of any problems with your charging system and battery condition before they fatally affect your battery.

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For example, if your battery is chronically discharged you can take it off and give it a good charge before it becomes permanently sulphated and dead. See here for simple step-by-step instructions on How to Charge a Car Battery. It can also detect alternator and charging system problems before they kill your battery or cause the car (or you) to breakdown.

You should test your battery at least once every three to four months. Most auto parts shops and mechanic would be happy to do this for you. You can also do this yourself with a voltmeter or a hydrometer. A voltmeter will tell you the voltage of the battery, while a hydrometer will tell you the specific gravity of the electrolyte. Note that a hydrometer would only be useful if you have a fillable or unsealed battery that can be opened.

Nowadays, you can even get a cheap load tester from most online stores. You can also load test your battery with just a voltmeter if you have a few minutes. Check out this YouTube video: How to Load Test a Battery.

8. Turn off lights and accessories.

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9. Use a Battery Maintainer.

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A battery maintainer is a device that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and provides a small amount of electrical current to keep the battery charged when the car is not in use for an extended period. Most battery maintainers use solar energy to generate this electricity. This is especially important if you live in an area with cold winters, as cold weather can drain a battery quickly.

Also, if you have a car that you don’t use very often, it’s a good idea to invest in a battery maintainer. This will help to prevent the battery from becoming drained and losing its efficiency.

10. Run the engine at regular intervals, even when it’s not being used.

If you know you won’t be driving your car for a few days, start the engine and let it run for about 15 minutes every day or at least once a week. This will keep the battery charged and prevent it from freezing in cold weather. It will also prevent it from sulfating, which can shorten its lifespan. If possible, try to take your car for a short drive once a week – even if it’s just around the block.

This is also important in hotter climates, as batteries discharge much faster in hotter climates than in colder climates.

11. Care for Your Whole Car.

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There is no point in doing excellent car battery maintenance if you neglect the rest of the car. One of the best ways to care for your car’s battery is to take good care of your whole car. This means regular maintenance of your engine and making sure all the fluids are at the correct levels. This reduces the battery power required to start your engine and reduces the work of the battery whenever you need to stop and start your car. By keeping your car in good condition, you’ll help to prolong the life of all its parts – including the battery.

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