The importance of a battery to a vehicle is endless. This detail directly affects the start of the vehicle. And although modern batteries, as a rule, are of high quality, they also require care. In this article, you will learn about the rules for caring for the battery, which will help keep it working. If you want to sell your car and are looking for a scrap car value calculator, take a look at JunkCarsUs.
This article mainly explains the important maintenance tips to maintain your car battery in good condition.
What is the function of a Car Battery?
The car battery basically performs two functions: the accumulation of electricity and its return. However, structurally, such units can differ significantly from each other. When it comes to car batteries, they can be divided into three groups:
- Serviced (repair is possible, up to replacement of plates)
- Low maintenance (they require moderate work supervision)
- Maintenance-free (they are equipped with a special gas valve and provide the possibility of recharging)
Basic care of batteries of all three types described above is based on similar principles. Let’s take a look at them.
How To Maintain Car Battery?
The battery of your car serves as a vital reservoir of electrical power needed to initiate the ignition and power the vehicle. To prevent your battery from going dead, it’s essential to adopt several measures to ensure your battery remains in optimal condition. This includes periodic cleaning, ensuring the hold-down is secure, providing insulation against cold weather, and monitoring fluid levels.
With proper maintenance according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you can extend your battery’s lifespan to approximately 5 to 7 years.
Let’s discuss these maintenance tips in detail:
1) Electrolyte Level Control Inspection
During the operation of serviced and low-maintenance batteries, the electrolyte inside them gradually loses water through evaporation, due to which it becomes thicker. Such processes adversely affect the operational properties of the battery; therefore, the amount and density of the solution in it must be controlled.
However, the electrolyte level in the battery can be determined visually or by a special indicator that some modern batteries are equipped with. If there is a shortage of the working solution inside the battery, then distilled water is usually added to it through a special hole. And the device is ready to work again. True, the charging time may increase slightly.
2) Electrolyte Density Measurement
On serviced and low-maintenance batteries, periodically check such an indicator as the density of the electrolyte. It can be determined using a densimeter. This is a special device consisting of a hydrometer placed in a glass tube with a tip and a rubber bulb.
3) Clean The Battery
The battery needs regular cleaning of the terminals and contact areas of the power wires. The metal has a tendency to oxidize. Therefore, it is important to prevent the welding of wires to the battery terminals.
Otherwise, it will be very difficult to separate such a structure. The terminals and contacts are cleaned with a metal brush using ammonia or an aqueous solution of soda. Then, the connections should be restored and covered with lithol, grease, or another antioxidant for prevention.
The battery case should also be kept clean. The upper part of the battery can be wiped with a 10% solution of ammonia or soda ash. During this treatment, you can easily remove dirt, traces of oil, and other contaminants. And if the battery does not work like new, then at least it will look like that.
Moreover, for maintenance-free batteries, the cleanliness of their gas hatches is especially important. Contamination of these elements can cause failure of the entire battery.
4) Check Battery Fasteners
To ensure that the battery plates are not deformed due to vibration and shock, their case must be securely fixed to the car body.
The battery terminals should also not move freely. If they hang out, then when the car hits a bump, the battery can be disconnected from the onboard network, and the car’s engine will simply stall.
In addition, disconnecting the vehicle may result in brake failure or steering lock. As a result, the car will be completely or partially uncontrollable and not far from the accident. In general, before a trip, it is advisable to check the reliability of the contacts on the battery.
5) Accumulator Charging
An unused battery sometimes needs to be recharged. During the active operation of the car, its battery is charged by the generator. But it happens that the battery needs an additional recharge. This often happens in the winter or during a long idle period of the car.
You can use a multimeter to determine if the battery needs to be recharged. When the engine is not running, the voltage at the battery terminals should be in the range of 12.5-13 V. If it is less, then it is advisable to recharge the battery.
You can charge the battery with any car charger with the function of adjusting the strength of the supplied current. This indicator should be in the range of 5-10% of the battery capacity value.
After filling the battery with energy, it is necessary to disconnect the charger and then the battery itself (start with the terminal with the minus sign).
6) Battery Use In Winter
Prolonged exposure of the battery to the cold will certainly lead to a decrease in its performance. The battery can quickly lose energy, get deeply discharged, or even fail.
For the winter, it is advisable to remove the battery from the vehicle and place it in a warm room with a low humidity indicator.
It is worth noting that even if the battery is stored in warm conditions, it still needs to be recharged. Charging should be carried out at least once every three months. In general, heat and recharging will allow the battery not to lose its energy-saving abilities during the winter.
7) Maintenance-free Battery Repair
Batteries that are classified as maintenance-free still require some kind of maintenance. Even if they have a completely sealed case, it is possible and necessary to control the level of electrolytes in such batteries.
To do this, many maintenance-free batteries are equipped with special indicators with red and green LEDs indicating the state of the electrolyte. If desired, it can be replaced. However, it is not recommended to do this without experience and knowledge.
Does charging a car battery make it last longer?
Yes, maintaining a battery at a constant full charge significantly extends its lifespan compared to undercharging or subjecting it to lower voltage.
How long should I run my car to maintain the battery?
To ensure optimal health of your car battery, it’s advisable to take your vehicle for a substantial drive of at least 25 minutes occasionally. This allows the battery to fully charge and compensates for shorter trips. If driving isn’t possible, running your engine for 14 to 20 minutes every week can also help maintain its battery.
What shortens car battery life?
One or more of the below-given factors affect the service life of your vehicle’s battery:
- Age of the battery
- Excessive high or low temperature
- Overcharging or undercharging
- Short trips
- Corrosion on the battery terminals
- Excessive physical shock or vibration
- Insufficient electrolyte levels
- Faulty alternator
- Poor maintenance
Does driving charge a car battery?
Yes, when you drive your vehicle, your engine turns the alternator, which further charges the car battery.
How to check the health of the car battery?
To check your battery health, you need to use a voltmeter. Start by removing the protective covers from the terminals of the battery. Now, attach the positive lead (red wire) of the voltmeter to the positive terminal. Next, attach the negative lead (black wire) of the voltmeter to the battery’s negative terminal. After completing these connections, take note of the readings showing on the voltmeter. A healthy battery typically has a voltage between 12.4V and 12.7V.
Does driving slower save battery?
Yes, driving slower saves battery life. When you drive fast, your car’s electrical accessories consume more and quick electrical power of your battery than driving at a slow speed.
How often should I charge my car battery?
Keep in mind that many car batteries are not fully charged while the vehicle is parked. Therefore, it is recommended to periodically connect your car battery to a high-quality battery charger, preferably on a monthly basis, to ensure it reaches a full charge and remains in good condition.
Do car batteries go bad if not used?
Yes, your car battery may become faulty if you don’t use it for a long time. If you don’t use your car battery for a long time, it may cause a gradual discharge and chemical changes within your battery, decreasing its capacity and reducing its lifespan.
Wrapping It Up
Whatever type of battery it is (maintained, low maintenance, or completely maintenance-free), you need to pay attention to it for stable and long work. One of the key battery care activities is checking the electrolyte level. It is also important to clean the case and battery terminals.
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