Automobiles can no longer be categorized exclusively into the mechanical sphere, with an increasing emphasis on electronic components. From the spark plug to sensors, and gear shift to cruise control, contemporary vehicles have become an ensemble of various other fields – the most important of them being the car battery.
Batteries form the nucleus of the electronics of the vehicle and the most significant drain in car batteries over time is due to lack of maintenance and negligence. However, considering the necessity of a healthy battery as well as the cost entailed in replacing them, you’ll no doubt want to extend the longevity of your battery. The prescribed battery life for any automobile ranges from 4-5 years, but not every battery lasts until the “calendar life”.
Here are some points that you must consider to maintain your car battery:
Limit the use of electronics while your engine is OFF
The most common way for a battery to be sapped is by leaving electronics, such as the headlights and stereo on without having the engine on. While an active engine will take power via fuel consumption, active electronics with an inactive engine will stem directly from the car battery.
When the car is on, the car alternator generates electricity and charges the car battery after the battery has a voltage drop but if the car is not on, and you are using the car’s electronics, you are just relying on the car battery to power those electronics. Instead, car batteries are meant to provide a sudden burst of power for ignition. They’re not made to provide prolonged power for electronics and other devices.
Although some vehicles will include warning indicators to let you know if you’ve forgotten to turn off headlights, for instance, you should make it a routine part of driving to check all electronics are off before exiting the vehicle. While using only the electronics, make sure to turn on the engine every few minutes. This will feed the battery and help mitigate the charge drain.
Give the battery regular attention and maintenance
Inevitably, corrosion will build up on batteries, particularly around the terminals. Even if the battery is otherwise healthy, this has a clear effect on limiting the flow of power. Fortunately, corrosion can be removed physically, either by using a screwdriver or set of pliers. Mild and moderate cases can be attended to at home, but more serious buildups may require the help of a professional.
Keeping a battery clean is important, regardless of how much you use the vehicle; if you’re not driving the car or storing it for the season, the engine should still be started up regularly.
Fully charge your car battery at least once a week
Your car battery drains even when the car is off. This is why people come home from long vacations and find their car battery dead. Car battery chargers (regular or solar) will maintain the optimum charge level of your car battery when the car is not in use.
The most important thing is to make sure you fully charge your car battery at least once a week because it will greatly increase the life of your battery. Do this with a charger, interchanging batteries, or just going on a car ride long enough to recharge the battery. But be careful to not overcharge since lead-acid batteries release oxygen and hydrogen gases when they’re overcharged, which can be explosive and also can break down the composition of the water in the battery – which shortens its lifespan
Check the battery’s water level
Most car batteries indicate if there is a need for water. So check the car battery water level indicator regularly if water is needed. There are several knobs that usually show the increase or decrease in water levels in the battery. If there are four such knobs and at least two of them do not contain water in the lids, it is time to quench the thirst of the battery, only with distilled water, which is available at all petrol pumps nowadays.
If you find that the battery warning sign is appearing even when your car engine is started, it’s time to go to the services station and get your vehicle battery checked.
Make long trips and Insulate the battery
As batteries require some time to get charged, it is advised to make longer trips. The problem is that charging and discharging, is alternated at a rapid rate, would repeatedly modify the temperatures of the chemicals in the battery, thereby making them susceptible to failure. Insulating the battery with a proper covering layer would increase its longevity significantly. Also, it is always advisable to keep the batteries disconnected during the long absence of driving.
Mounting the battery with appropriate clamps is essential to hold it in place and prevent the dynamic vibration which can cause electrical disasters like short circuits, fluctuations, sparks.
It can not be emphasized enough that batteries are the arteries of automobiles, and hence require constant care. If you have a particular concern about your car’s battery or the battery light is on, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional mechanic, for assistance.
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