Car Battery Maintenance Basics

There is more than a fair share of people who have had the nightmare of getting stranded somewhere with a dead battery. And it doesn’t have to be in the middle of nowhere. It may well be a Walmart parking lot, at 11 PM, snow pouring, and no one in sight to give you a tow or to jump start your battery.

You’re lucky because this kind of nightmare is avoidable. Here are some easy car battery maintenance that will ensure your battery last its intended lifetime and give you a peace of mind that your car will start whenever you turn the ignition.

Car Battery Care - Check The Date
Image : Car Battery Help
Check The Date
Batteries are made to live three to five years. If you buy your car brand new the age of the battery is pretty much the same as the age of your car. If you buy a used car the battery may be as old as the car or newer if the previous owner already replace it. To check the battery’s age open your car hood and inspect the battery. Look for a sticker or label with numbers on it. Something like 05/11. That shows the month and year of manufacturing so 05/11 means May, 2011.

If the battery is older than three years you should replace it with new one. Get the same kind of battery or something with the same specification.
Car Battery Maintenance - Clean the Contacts
Image : Toyoto of Orlando
Clean It
The metal contacts of the car battery is prone to corrosion and rust if not properly maintained. Some cars have their battery covered with a protective cover so you need to unscrew the cover first to inspect the contacts. If you see the contacts are corroded with white, chalky stuff or dirty you should clean them.

First, disconnect the cable from the negative contact. Loosen the clamp on the contact and gently twist and turn it to loosen the clamp completely. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water. Use an non metal brush (used toothbrush works fine) to slowly brush the contacts using the baking soda mix. Dry and clean the negative contact with a dry cloth then do the save with the positive one.

Reconnect the clamps and close the cover when finished.
Car Battery Maintenance - Check The Voltage
Image : Car Advice Centre
Test The Voltage
Use a multi meter to check your battery’s voltage. A car battery is supposed to be a 12-volt battery. It has six cells with each giving 2.1 volts so it’s actually 2.1 volts x 6 = 12.6 volts when fully charged. If the engine is running while you test it the voltage is even higher, 13.7 – 14.7 volts. If the volt meter shows a number way below 12.6 volts, like 11.5 volts for example, then one of the cells is bad and you should replace the battery.

If you’ve never used a multi meter to test a car battery before just watch the short video above. It’s a simple thing to do even by someone who have never done it before. Just make sure you take the safety precautions to avoid electric shock.

Car Battery Care - Add Water
Image : Warranty Wise
Refill The Water
Car batteries consist of cells an electrolytes. This liquid act as the bridge that transport the current. On a good battery the level of electrolyte sits between the minimum and the maximum line marked on the side of the battery. one Over time the electrolyte is used and may go below the minimum level. When this happen you need to add distilled water to maintain your battery’s capacity. Distilled water can be purchased from most grocery store. Never use tap water. The mineral in it will cause disruption to the electrolyte and you’ll compromise the battery’s capacity as the result.

To refill the water, first pull up the fill cap. Then slowly pour the distilled water until the water level is right below the maximum level. Close the cap once you’re done.

Always Turn Off Your Headlights When Parking
Once, I parked my car after long night ride and forgot to turn off the headlights. My car is an old one that doesn’t scream when you turn off the car with the headlights on. Was too tired to realized it and in the morning I got myself a car that won’t start.

Always turn off the radio, headlights, and interior lights whenever you park your car even when you think you’ll only be parking for a while.

Okay, with those simple steps your car battery should last a long time. For an extra peace of mind, get a dependable jump starter and carry put it on the trunk so you can jump start the battery when needed. A jump starter is one of those things that you need to have before you need it. Should your car ever feel reluctant to start, just jump start it and you’ll be going on your way.

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