5 Car Battery Maintenance Tips to Help Yours Last Longer
Nothing is as frustrating as getting into your car only to discover your battery is dead. Just like your car’s engine, transmission and tires all need regular inspection and maintenance, so does your vehicle’s battery. You can avoid expensive service or tow charges by keeping your car battery working at peak performance with these simple car battery maintenance tips.
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A car’s battery needs to be inspected and tested throughout the year to ensure it will operate properly every time you need it to. Regular care can go a long way toward making your car battery last longer and perform better during its lifetime. The best way to remember this is to do a simple check at the change of the seasons.
Inspect your battery’s visual condition
If you see any cracks, leaks or bulging from the sides or top of the battery, it’s a sure sign it needs to be replaced. Also look to see if there is any corrosion forming on the cable ends or the battery posts.
Clean any Dirt and Corrosion
Keep the top of your car battery clean. Dirt and corrosion can accumulate on battery terminals, and inhibits the current flow. Clean off any dirt and corrosion from the top of the battery first and then remove the cables, and clean any corrosion from around the battery terminals and cables with a post cleaner. A simple wire brush and a mixture of baking soda and distilled water will do the trick perfectly! Simply dip the brush in the mixture, and then gently scrub the terminal to achieve a shine and remove dried acid build-up.
Check your battery’s fluid level if you have a non-maintenance-free wet-cell battery
There are two types of car batteries: a wet cell and a wet-cell battery or an Absorbed Glass Matt (AGM) battery. With an AGM battery, you should never attempt to open the battery. Instead, have a battery expert check your battery, especially since these rarely need water. If you have a wet cell battery, checking the water levels is something that should be done at least every 2 to 3 months, or at the change of the season.
To check the water level, look for the plugs or caps on the top of the battery. These are what seal the fluid inside. To check the fluid level, simply unscrew the plugs or pry the caps off. If the battery fluid is covering the vertical plates inside the battery, you are good to go.
If. on the other hand, the plates inside your battery are exposed at the top, you will need to carefully add some distilled water to the battery. Only use distilled water – never use tap water! You only need to add enough to cover the plates completely. Be careful not to overfill! If you do, the fluid could expand in hot weather and push battery acid out the top of the battery. Once finished, make sure you re-install the battery caps or plugs tightly once you are finished.
Check the Battery Voltage
Inspect the cell voltage every time you get an oil change or take your car in for maintenance. Your regular mechanic will have a reliable method for testing your voltage. Or you can take your car to an auto parts store for battery testing. Most stores will
check the voltage and the charge for you, and even show you some products that may help with your battery maintenance plan.
Pro Tip: keep in mind that a battery under 12.5 volts should never be tested until it reaches a fully charged level. Otherwise a battery tester will often show “Bad Battery” even though the battery is perfectly good!
Common Signs It May Be Time for a New Battery
A car battery has a finite life. At some point you will need to replace your current battery with a new one. Have your battery checked by a certified mechanic like those at East Hills Jeep, if you notice your headlights and interior lights dim, accessories that fail to operate, or the “check engine” or battery light come on. And remember, always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.