A battery is the lifeblood of a car. Without it, your car won’t move. It’s important to ensure your battery is strong and healthy at all times, to avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere or in your driveway when you really need to get to work. It’s no secret that an unexpected flat battery can lead to a lot of stress and wasted time.
Anything from harsh weather conditions to leaving your lights on can contribute to battery drainage. Here are some tips on how to keep your battery from draining prematurely and how you can extend the life of your car battery. Hint: regular battery service is key to it all.
1. Test Battery Voltage Regularly
Being proactive when it comes to testing your battery can prevent a breakdown or battery failure while driving. Your trusted mechanics can do a battery test for you, but you could also invest in an at-home device called a voltmeter and do it yourself. Digital voltmeters are the way to go because they are faster, easier and more accurate. For best results, do the voltage test at least 12 hours after your car has not been in use.
Connect the positive voltmeter lead to the positive terminal on the battery, then do the same with the negative lead. You will get a voltage reading of between 12.4 and 12.8 volts if your battery is fully charged. If your number is outside those numbers, bring it to your mechanic.
2. Regularly Use Your Car
Don’t let your car sit for long periods of time without use. When a vehicle is inactive for several days or weeks, the battery doesn’t have enough time to recharge. If you simply don’t use the car very often, make it a point to take it for a short drive once a week or so, for at least a half hour. This will warm up the engine, circulate the fluids, and jazz up the battery.
If you let your car sit for weeks at a time, you may be in for a rude awakening when you go to start it up. Check for proper electrolyte levels.
3. Clean the Battery
Dirty batteries can short circuit, so every month, clean it to get all the grime, dirt or dampness off. It’s fairly easy to get off the surface-level grime using a sponge and dry cloth. However, if you notice corrosion happening, it’s not as simple as cleaning it off. This is a sign that your battery has been exposed to moisture and is starting to rust. Corrosion on terminals and lead clamps won’t allow for an unobstructed flow of electricity throughout the battery. Take it to a mechanic, who can inspect how much damage has occurred and what the best course of action is.
4. Don’t Use Electronic Accessories
When the engine’s not running, make sure all headlights and interior lights are off. Don’t turn the ignition to listen to the radio when just sitting in your vehicle. All of these things can drain the battery. Why? The alternator shuts down when the engine is off, allowing lights and other activities to drain power from the battery.
It’s a good idea to get into a routine every time you exit your vehicle. Check that the interior lights are off. You don’t want to come back to a car that won’t start! Lock your car and shut all doors when you reach your destination and exit the car, not just in the interest of security but also to ensure your car’s computer system does not remain running, draining your battery without you realizing it.
5. Bring Your Car in For Regular Service
No one wants to face the aggravation and expense of an unexpected breakdown. This is why it’s important to schedule – and stick to – regular service appointments at a mechanic you can trust. During these service calls, you can ask to get your car battery tested. They will tell you if it’s in good condition, or suggest a timeline for replacing it.
Contact Rick and Ray’s Auto Plaza
Need a battery change? Not sure what’s wrong exactly? Rick & Ray’s Auto Plaza can help with our many diagnostic and replacement services. To schedule service or get a quote, contact us in Fort Worth. As part of our auto electrical services, we offer battery and hybrid battery service.