Most car batteries produced today are marketed as “maintenance-free,” but if you want to ensure that your car runs as smoothly as possible, it’s important to keep tabs on the the health of your car’s battery. By following a number of simple tips and checking for several issues on an annual or semiannual basis, you can keep your car in top condition at a fractional cost.
Five Ways To Keep Your Car’s Battery In Great Shape
1) Park in a garage during the winter. Your battery is a piece of chemical equipment and is affected by the temperature. If the battery is subjected to cold temperatures for too long, it can be damaged and not last as long or provide power as consistently as you might like. The garage doesn’t have to be heated – all you need is some semi-decent insulation. In fact, a heated garage might be counterproductive to the rest of your car, as it can cause the metal to rust or the paint to flake.
2) Clean battery regularly. In order to do this, you need to remove the cable clamps and loosen the battery holder, then remove the battery from your vehicle. Chances are, it’s caked in rust, battery fluid, dried grease and dirt. All of these things negatively affect the connection between your battery and the rest of your car, so if you want to get the most out of your car battery maintenance, you need to clean it off. First, scrub the top of the battery using baking soda and water, then use the same solution to clean the cable clamps until they’re shining. A circular #535 brass brush is the best tool for this job, but any wire brush will do the trick. Once you’re done, reattach the battery, then re-apply grease to the connection between the clamps and the battery.
3) Make sure the battery is insulated and secured. Shake the battery a little bit – if it moves, it’s not secure enough. Tighten the bolts connecting the battery to the frame of the engine and to the cable clamps until the battery doesn’t move at all. Because a battery contains a lot of sensitive chemicals, you definitely don’t want any of those to spill into the rest of the engine. As far as insulation is concerned, you can purchase battery insulation (it looks a lot like padded tin foil), then wrap the battery in it. This keeps the battery safe from the elements, and is a great idea if you are unable to park your car inside during the winter.
4) Add distilled water (only for non-maintenance-free batteries). For batteries that don’t maintain themselves, simply add distilled water every three months or so. Check the water level monthly during the summer months, as heat makes water evaporate faster. Make sure it’s distilled water! Tap water will ruin your battery. To do this, simply remove the vent cap from the battery, and then pour water in until it’s just below the bottom (not the lip) of the cell inspection hole. Do not overfill! It is crucial that you keep your car’s battery water levels high; otherwise you could be on the hook for a large mechanic bill.
5) Purchase a solar charger for your car battery. Nobody wants to be stuck with a dead battery, in need of a jump start. This isn’t so much a battery maintenance tip as it is a life maintenance tip that has to do with your car battery. If your battery runs out, you can simply connect the solar charger to the battery, and you’ll have enough juice to get you home at least. Solar chargers are quite inexpensive these days, and perfect for the average consumer who wants to keep his battery in tip-top shape.
Whether you’re a car enthusiast or a total novice newbie, it’s important to make sure that your car is in good condition. The battery is one of the most important parts of your car, so don’t skimp on its maintenance! Make sure you take good care of it.