An automotive battery is one of the most important, if not the most important component in your automotive. Without the battery the vehicle would not be able to start. It is necessary for any vehicle to have one up to standards, to prevent unexpected interruptions when you are on the move.
Typically located in the front of the car, next to the engine, it is the initial electricity power that starts the ignition. Thereafter, as long as you keep the vehicle going, the alternator should be able to power the car as well as recharge the automotive battery. Not only does it power the engine, but it also supplies power to any lights or electronics.
How long should a car battery last?
A car battery life may vary depending on the care, trips and additional electronics connected by the driver. A typical car battery can last over 4-5 years if it is well maintained. So, maintaining the automotive battery can extend the life of the battery, minimizing inconveniences, towing, and hassles down the line. However after the fourth year, if it is acting up and not holding the charge it is better to just replace.
Auto Battery Care Steps
Before you start, make sure that you are not smoking around the battery and that you are advised to wear rubber gloves as well as eye protection. Make sure under no circumstances you let the positive and negatives touch, either by the cables or by any sort of conductor.
Pop up the bonnet and locate the battery, you would want to firstly clean the connectors and of both the positive and negative terminals. There may be some corrosion here, the best way is to use warm water or if you have, a tablespoon of baking soda with water and a non-metallic brush. Gently brush it clean.
In doing so, it makes it easier for you to remove the positive and negative cables off the auto battery. Cleaning the corrosion can be the most efficient and easiest step in maintaining the battery, as this can also prevent the car from starting. Ideally you would want to check this every month or two.
#2 Battery & Surrounds
When removing your car battery there may be chance that your radio and date and time settings may reset.
Location and battery types may vary, but for most it would essentially be the same. To remove the battery, remove the battery hold-on clamp. Next, remove the negative connector, this would be the one with the minus (-) sign, loosening the connector head so that it may slide off. Do not be forcible as you may damage the terminal. Making sure that the negative is clear from any conductors and the positive, you can begin to remove the positive connector (+).
Making sure both cables are not in your way, remove the battery and check the overall battery for any defects. Any cracks or distortions should be noted, these are typically caused from heat or overcharging. If there is any major distortions or cracks, it is advised to replace the battery.
Carefully place the battery down and clean and inspect the battery tray, connectors, and screws. Make sure it is in good standards. Ideally you want to check this every 6 months.
If you have a battery insulator, make sure that it is also clean and dry.
#3 Battery Cells
Next is the battery cells, if you have a refillable non-maintenance-free wet cell battery, you can begin to pry off the cover or unscrew the top of the auto battery. Have a look at the fluids, the water and acidic mix should be about half an inch to the bottom of the fill hole.
If the cells need water, do not use tap water, only clean distilled/demineralised water. Do not fill with acid. If you had to refill, leave the battery out to let the mixture settle, for about 2 hours.
If you have a maintenance-free auto battery, this should be checked by a professional if you think that there may be a fault.
#4 Fitting It Back Together
Place the battery in the tray and clamp it down. Connect the positive connector first then the negative. Making sure everything is all tight and clean, you can additional smear a bit of petroleum jelly on the terminals to slow corrosion.
#5 Auto Battery Testing
Some batteries will have an in-built hydrometer, if not you can purchase a hydrometer at most autoparts shop.
Make sure the battery is not in-use. To use the hydrometer, squeeze the ball at the end of the hydrometer to draw up the liquid into the scale. Measured by Specific Gravity (SG), hold the scale levelled and record the value, having it read 1.275 to 1.290 is ideal, meaning a full charge, with anything below 1.240 requires charging. Squeeze out the liquid back into the cell, and be careful not to get this anywhere as it is harmful to most surfaces.
The battery can be tested by the voltmeter while it is in use, having for e.g. a headlight on. Measured in Voltage (V), a 12V battery should show 11.5V DC with the headlights on. If it is any value lower then it may need recharging.
Additional Auto Battery Tips
- Keeping a healthy battery you must have it being used and constantly charging from time to time, preferably at least once a week.
- Do not overcharge as this may shorten the life of the battery
- Cold and excessive heat may wear out the battery faster
- Signs and symptoms of a dying battery could be dim lights and slow or difficult engine starts.
- Charge and text a battery first before assuming that it is dead.
- Charge in a well ventilated and free from any open flames or sparks.
- Always read the instructions from the battery charger, avoiding overcharging.
- Always keep the battery warranty, and recycle it at proper drop-off locations.
- Have jumper cables in the trunk at the ready.
- Along with the car battery there are other components of the automotive that can further minimize breakdowns, such as engine oil, fluids and tyres.
Image Source: Pixabay