A dead battery can be a huge inconvenience, and the ordeal is made that much more frustrating when it’s a frequent, reoccurring issue. There’s no way to completely prevent your battery from failing. However, there are ways you could maximize your battery’s power and preserve it’s energy.
Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into your battery’s lifespan. Firestone Complete Auto Care notes that a battery’s life expectancy could be attributed to where you live (as extreme warmth or extreme cold could reduce the lifespan), the distance you drive your vehicle (as driving 20 minutes or less each day doesn’t allow your battery to completely charge), and how often all the various gadgets are plugged in (which we’ll get to later).
Before you seek new car batteries for sale, check out some of our suggestions for maximizing your battery’s lifespan. You may learn that your battery isn’t actually dead, after all…
Keep the Area Clean
Well isn’t this the golden rule. Things generally work better when they’re not covered in dirt and grime, and this is especially true for your car’s battery. As Alexander Davies of Discovery.com describes, the parts under your car’s hood are susceptible to corrosion, and that can prevent the current from traveling from that battery to the cables. Furthermore, general gunk on the casing of your car’s battery can actually reduce power. A damp towel will safely remove the debris.
If you have noticed a nasty build up, you shouldn’t panic. It’s actually relatively easy to remedy, as a screwdriver, pliers, or any other sharp object will remove the corrosion. If the issue looks like it’s beyond your control, take it down to a professional to get cleaned up. Once it’s looking good as new, you just need to tighten the clamps and rev the ignition. In fact, removing corrosion has resulted in presumed “dead batteries” coming back to life!
Of course, cleaning the area once every two years won’t help. The battery (along with many of your car’s other essential parts) should be inspected regularly. Also, before you decide to do some cleaning, make sure you refer to a professional or some notable guide. You don’t want to find yourself washing the lead plate, which is not only dangerous and potentially bad for your health, but could also cause damage to your battery.
Inspecting under the hood won’t only allow you to identify areas that need cleaning. You may also recognize that your battery doesn’t seem secure, or is slanting. This could cause the system to brake or short circuit, which could then lead to several more serious issues for your vehicle. If you notice that your battery doesn’t seem to be installed correctly (likely due to tiny movements over time), take it into your local mechanic. Getting the system secured will certainly cost some money, but it’ll certainly be a lesser amount than you’d dish out if you battery suddenly died.
While you’re at the mechanic, you might as well have them check the water level indicator on your battery. If it needs more water, you can fill it up (but remember to only use distilled water). Too much or too little water could lead to premature aging, which is never good, so make sure your aware of the current amount
Limit Short Trips
Starting and stopping your car can do quite a toll on your car’s battery. It’s difficult to avoid a quick trip to the grocery store, but you shouldn’t get into the habit of consistently making the 10-minute drives. The battery is required to put forth extra energy whenever the car is turned on, so doing this multiple times in a day would understandably make it quite tired! Besides planning your trips to minimize your number of stops, you could also consider biking, walking, or taking public transportation.
This sentiment is especially important in colder climates. A cold battery is generally required to put forth significantly more energy than a warm battery. Starting and stopping an already-struggling battery isn’t a good idea.
Insulate the Battery
As we mentioned previously, it’s always a better idea to keep your battery on the warm side. If you live in New England, I’m sure you’ve come outside one freezing winter morning to find your battery dead. That’s because the cold zaps the power from the device, and while you may believe the system is working properly, it’s actually struggling. When you’ve gone outside and found yourself with a dead battery, that’s a culmination of your recent trips.
One option to help prevent this from happening to you is by insulating your battery. Buying a specially made blanket could prevent the unit from freezing, and it might ultimately save you some money (while also preventing some unneeded aggravation). A lot of cars already come with these blankets, but if you have to shop for one, make sure you target an insulator that will properly surround your battery. You’ll also want to make sure that they’re plastic or acid/thermal resistant.
If you’re shopping for a new battery, Davies suggests opting for a smaller size. This allows for the system to be more adequately insulated.
Your battery is still draining some energy, even when your car isn’t in use. If you’re going on a vacation (or if you’re just not planning on driving your car for a period of time), consider disconnecting the battery. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend doing this yourself, as you could risk compromising the entire vehicle. Instead, ask a professional, or refer to a detailed online guide.
Another option is to purchase a battery charger. This will keep your unit juiced to the proper level, even when it’s not in use. This would be especially important for those planning long-term trips, as a charger would assure that your battery is still working when you return. Of course, it’s also important that you don’t overcharge your battery. When lead-acid batteries receive too much juice, they could release potentially explosive oxygen and hydrogen gasses.
Finally, if you are planning on shelving your vehicle for a while, you should at least consider disconnecting all the various gadgets. The smallest feature requires some power, and you’ll be further compromising your vehicle’s power by keeping doors unlocked, keeping the lights on, and not unplugging any phone chargers.
“Using the horn, stereo, headlights or other accessories when your car is off can actually drain your battery life a lot faster,” Bryan Emrich, the vice president of marketing for PEAK Performance Products, told FoxNews.com.
Heat it Before Jumping
As we’ve already mentioned, a warm battery generally operates better than a cold battery. If you have no choice but to jump your vehicle, consider putting the least amount of strain on the system as possible. If your car is in the shade, consider pushing it into the sun, and let your battery heat up for a couple minutes. Once you’re convinced that the unit is heated to a proper temperature, try jumping the vehicle. The process should be a lot more efficient and smooth than if you were using a cold battery.
What did we tell you? There’s no way to assure that your battery won’t ever die, but there are certainly things that you can do to minimize the risk. Hopefully you’ll use some of this advice going forward, or else you may find yourself seeking jumper cables on the side of the road.