When you step into your car and twist its key, the engine roars to life and takes you smoothly on different adventures every day. Operating under the hood, the real power horse that energizes your car is the car battery. Often overlooked, the car battery serves one of the most pivotal roles in providing a tension-free travel experience.
To keep your vehicle roaring for a long period, it is crucial to grab the essentials of car battery maintenance. Neglecting this important component can cause inconvenient breakdowns and leave you stranded on the road with no clue about what happened. Twisting the key does nothing this time around but tells you that something’s wrong with the battery.
Read along, and we will delve into the world of car battery maintenance and equip you with the knowledge about how to extend your car’s battery life, detect warning signs, and carry out essential battery care. This guide will empower you with knowledge about the different battery types and some practical maintenance tips. If followed properly, you will become an enthusiast who doesn’t have to worry about a dead battery ever again.
Understanding Different Battery Types Available
Your car battery has a finite lifespan even though it appears to be an unassuming box of power. Understanding the different types of batteries and how to extend the life of these batteries is the first step towards effective maintenance.
- 1. Lead Acid Battery:
Lead acid batteries are the most common type of batteries that are used in most vehicles. They have a natural life of three to five years and are known for their durability and affordability.
- 2. AGM and Gel Battery:
Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries and Gel batteries are more advanced battery types. These batteries have a large battery life of up to seven years. These batteries offer enhanced performance and are only used in high-end and modern vehicles.
- 3. Lithium Ion Batteries:
Electric Vehicles (EVs) use lithium-ion batteries since these batteries are designed to endure daily charging and discharging. These batteries are warranted for about 5 to 8 years but can easily last for 10 to 20 years.
- 4. NiMH Batteries:
Hybrid Vehicles require Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries to operate properly. These batteries have a lifespan of about 8 years.
Factors that Affect Battery Lifespan
However, the chemical composition of these batteries is only one of the reasons that affect their life. There are several other external factors that influence the life of these batteries. These are:
- 1. Time:
Batteries tend to suffer from wear and tear with the passing of time. This happens because of the frequent charging and discharging. Batteries that are pushed beyond five years can suddenly fail.
- 2. Temperature:
Extreme weather conditions can also cause the batteries to deteriorate over time. Extremely hot weather can cause the battery fluid to evaporate and damage the internal cells. On the other hand, cold weather can decrease the performance of the battery.
- 3. Vibrations:
Sudden or continuous vibrations can severely impact the life of a battery. Mount your battery securely and use rubber cushions to further minimize the impact.
- 4. The proper amount of charge:
Proper charging of the battery through the alternator is vital. It is crucial to note that undercharging, overcharging, or letting the battery dry out completely can all lead to reduced lifespan.
A proper understanding of the different types of batteries and the external factors that affect their lifespan will equip you with an understanding of how to extend their lifespan and avoid unwanted breakdowns.
How to identify if a Battery is About to Die?
A well-maintained car battery will keep your car running smoothly for years at length. But sometimes the battery may silently struggle. Recognizing the signs of a failing battery will not only prevent you from being stranded on the road but also enable you to intervene in a timely manner and get the battery replaced. Here are some signs that you must look for in your car to notice if the battery needs a check:
- 1. Look for Electrical Issues:
Notice if your headlights begin to dim while sitting idle but brighten upon revving the engine. This is a clear sign that the battery is about to die. If other electrical components show similar signs, the battery needs attention.
- 2. Multiple attempts to start the engine:
If you have to twist the key multiple times to start the engine, this is another clear sign that the battery is nearing its end. You might be able to squeeze in a few more ignitions before battery replacement becomes inevitable.
- 3. Check the engine light:
While a lit engine light doesn’t necessarily mean a failed battery, it is often a sign that there’s something wrong with the alternator. This is not a good sign since the alternator directly affects the battery.
- 4. Check for a foul smell:
A damaged or leaking battery is likely to release an unpleasant foul smell. This is because of the presence of sulphuric acid.
- 5. Check for corrosion in the connectors:
With age, the battery terminals usually develop corrosion. Corrosion causes ignition problems and terminal failures.
- 6.Deformation in battery:
If your car battery is losing its shape, cracking, or bloating, it is a sign that your battery needs to be changed immediately.
Keeping track of all the above warning signs of a battery can help you address these issues early on and avoid inconvenient breakdowns. Regular checkups also help extend your battery’s life.
Regular Car Battery Maintenance: Steps for Longevity
A healthy and well-maintained car battery is the key to guaranteeing that your vehicle starts reliably, even in adverse situations. In order to extend the life of your battery and avert unexpected breakdowns, consider the following tips:
- 1. Timely battery replacement:
Lead Acid batteries have a fixed lifespan: anywhere from 3-5 years. Yes, they can keep running for a longer time in certain cases but it is best recommended to get the battery replaced after four years. Adhering to this schedule will avoid the frustration that comes with a sudden breakdown.
- 2. Regularly Check for acid levels:
When the battery is not completely charged, and its charge remains below 80% for an extended period, it can lead to acid stratification. This will prevent it from regaining full charge again. If your vehicle is only used for short trips or uses multiple power-hungry accessories, make sure to check the acid levels in your battery since acid stratification causes the electrolytes to concentrate at the bottom, leaving the upper part starved.
- 3. Maintain water levels:
If you notice that the electrolyte levels are low, this means that the plates of the battery are exposed. Add distilled water to cover these plates. Use a funnel to fill the battery and avoid spillage. Use a battery charger to recharge the battery after adding water. This will ensure optimum battery performance.
- 4. Perform battery load tests:
It is advisable to have comprehensive battery maintenance conducted each month. Ask a mechanic to perform a battery load test and verify that the battery is in a condition to charge efficiently even in freezing temperatures.
- 5. Clean the battery and its terminals Regularly:
Dirt and Debris can harm the battery if they infiltrate into the battery cells or gather around battery terminals. To avoid complications that arise from this, it is essential to clean the battery terminals periodically. Using ammonia-based window cleaners is recommended for the general cleaning of terminals. If the terminals appear to be corroded, use a mixture of baking soda and water and apply it using a wire brush. Make sure you clean the terminals and make them dry. Otherwise, there is a risk of these liquids entering the battery.
- 6. Secure the cables properly:
Make sure that the battery cables are tied securely to the terminals. This will make sure that there is a stable electrical connection and there’s reduces the chances of unwanted damage.
- 7. Use your car regularly:
Make sure that you use your car regularly, even if that means taking a short trip. Leaving your car unused for a long period can have adverse effects on the battery. Drive it at least once every three days to prevent the battery from losing its charge. Modern cars are equipped with a lot of sophisticated and power-hungry electronics. This makes it even more important to use the car regularly since these electronics would otherwise drain the battery.
- 8. Store in a dry space with moderate temperature:
Moisture is the reason behind corrosion not only on the battery but also on other components of the car. Therefore, storing it in a dry place is advised. An extremely cold atmosphere can impact the battery’s performance. Use an engine or battery heater during the winter months to prevent them from dying.
- 9. Avoid overcharging the battery:
Upon manually charging the battery, make sure not to overcharge it. Overcharging can cause damage and it is advised to check the battery’s progress to prevent overcharging.
Incorporating the above-mentioned battery maintenance good practices into your routine will significantly improve the battery’s life, reduce the risk of any breakdowns, and save you from being stranded in unexpected situations. Regular checkups and preventive battery care are essential to keep the battery in top condition and your vehicle reliable. Remember, a well-maintained battery sits in the heart of every smooth-running car.
Proper car battery maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and reliability of your car. Neglecting the car battery can cause unwanted car breakdowns and other inconveniences like trouble starting the car, etc. Adhering to regular maintenance and checkups can significantly increase the life of your battery.
Timely car battery replacement, checking acid levels, adding water, and conducting battery load tests are some things that will keep you away from trouble. Externally, keeping the battery clean, securing cables, and using the vehicle regularly, are essential. Remember, taking care of a working battery is much easier than getting a dead battery fixed or replaced.