Tips to Extend Car Battery Life
Tips to Extend Car Battery Life
It might not be a surprise that the leading cause of vehicle breakdowns is a dead battery. To avoid the inconvenience of a breakdown, one of the best things you can do is take care of your battery. We have outlined some top tips to help you get the most from your battery.
Inspect Your Battery Regularly
The type of battery in your car will determine how often it should be checked. If you’re in doubt, ask your local R&J Batteries expert to check or maintain your battery.
Low-Maintenance Car Batteries
Low maintenance batteries can be identified by their removable caps and they should be checked every month or two for:
- Signs of acid or corrosion build-up around the terminals, and
- Adequate electrolyte levels
Maintaining electrolyte levels is important. Low electrolyte levels reduce the battery’s performance and life, too much can cause corrosion on terminals and brackets. If there is evident corrosion build up, wash it away with hot water, rinse thoroughly, dry and apply a lubricant spray (such as WD40, CRC or specialist battery terminal spray) for protection.
Maintenance-Free Car Batteries
Maintenance-free batteries are identified by their flush sealed top and often have a built-in hydrometer or state-of-charge indicator. Check the Battery’s indicator colour to determine it’s level of charge.
- Green indicates a healthy state of charge;
- black, clear or red indicate possible problems which should be investigated by a battery specialist.
Due to their design, terminals usually stay clean and dry. Signs of acid leakage or excessive heat could indicate a major charging system fault (overcharging). To prevent further damage, this should be addressed urgently.
Limit Use of Car Accessories Until Driving
Avoid using car accessories like stereos, air conditioning or lights until the engine is started. Once the engine is running, the alternator will generate power for the electrical components and accessories. The battery acts as a reserve power supply.
When the engine is switched off, the alternator shuts down and electrical accessories can start draining the battery’s power. Batteries should be used for engine starting and kept at or near full charge to obtain the maximum life.
Maintain Your Battery When Not in Regular Use
Almost all modern cars drain the battery to some degree when they are not used, the level of drain varies depending on the vehicle make and model.
Many modern, computerised, electrical car accessories require constant power to maintain system memory and functionality. Over time these systems can drain the battery if left unattended. Some models with high power drain can drain a healthy car battery in as little as 10 days and up to two months+ in models with low-level current drain.
Regular vehicle usage and occasional long-distance trips should ensure your battery retains an appropriate level of charge, to reliably start your car’s engine.
For classic, collectable and cars used infrequently or if you’re heading off on holiday and leaving your car behind, you should take steps to prevent the battery from becoming discharged.
Battery “Maintenance Chargers” are available at R&J Batteries. Small chargers can be left on to monitor your battery’s charge level and top up as required, without overcharging. Solar-powered chargers can be used in areas where mains power is unavailable, provided they have access to sunlight.
Choose the Correct Size and Type of Battery
Car batteries tend to be a “grudge” purchase and there can be a tendency to buy the cheapest battery. This wasn’t such an issue in older vehicles as they had basic electrical systems. If the battery started your car that was all that mattered.
In newer cars, the battery is an integral part of complex electrical systems. The replacement battery should match both capacity and chemistry type, to ensure continued reliability. Using the incorrect battery type and capacity can result in premature battery failure or even electrical system malfunction. This can be expensive to diagnose and repair, making the cheaper battery a very costly item in the long run.
For guaranteed peace-of-mind consult the experienced battery experts at R&J Batteries to ensure your vehicle’s battery is replaced with one that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s OE specifications.