Car batteries typically last three to five years. Nonetheless, the lifespan of your car battery can be impacted by things like extreme weather and how you drive. However, you can still save your battery from dying too soon and make it last a bit longer by regularly maintaining it.
Here are eight easy and practical tips to help your car battery last longer so you don't have to change yours after just one or two years:
Test your battery voltage regularly
1. Test your battery voltage regularly
You might be able to avoid a breakdown or battery failure while driving if you test out your batteries in advance. Although qualified mechanics can test your battery for you, if you need to do so in between auto services, you can also use a piece of convenient at-home equipment.
Using a voltmeter to check the voltage of your battery is the simplest method to do this. Digital voltmeters are the simplest to use if you decide to get one. Perform the voltage test at least twelve hours after turning off your car for the most precise reading.
Begin by attaching the positive voltmeter lead to the battery's positive terminal, then do the same with the negative lead. The voltage reading will then be displayed – normally, a completely charged battery will read between 12.4 and 12.8 volts. If your voltage reading deviates from these ranges, a mechanic will probably need to give your battery a thorough check up to ensure safety.
2. Don’t leave your car unused for too longYour car's battery won't have enough time to recharge if it sits idle for days on end (or if it is only used for short excursions). If at all feasible, take your car for a 30-minute drive once a week to warm up the engine and circulate the fluids. Your car will operate at its best when it is used frequently.
Your car battery may likely need maintenance when you use it again if it will be idle for a few weeks. The ideal course of action is to make sure it is completely charged and to confirm that the electrolyte levels are appropriate (if it has removable caps). If unsure, get further guidance from your trusted mechanic or a car shop.
3. Keep your battery clean
Battery connectors and battery lead clamps often get rusty after a while. Therefore, it's crucial to clean debris or buildup from the terminals, lead clamps, and other potentially damaged parts in order to ensure the longevity and efficiency of your battery. Damages on these parts can prevent power from flowing through the battery. Ask your mechanic to clean the terminals if necessary when servicing them.
4. When your car engine fails to start, avoid using any electronicsEven if you did not start the engine, you can still drain the battery by leaving the headlights, interior lighting, or ignition on. This is because when the engine is turned off, your car's alternator shuts down, causing electronic devices to draw power from the battery instead. Make it a practice to always ensure that everything is turned off before leaving your car to prevent this, especially your lights.
5. Service your car regularlyIt is advisable to have your car battery checked by your trusted mechanic to lower the likelihood of an unanticipated breakdown. When you bring your car in for maintenance, ask the mechanic to check that your battery is healthy and operating correctly. This is especially important if you’re planning a long road trip ahead.
6. Tighten the hold-down to keep the battery from rattling aroundExcessive vibration may result in battery damage in the long run. The hold-down bar stabilises the battery and guards against damage from vibrations. You may check the battery hold-down by opening the hood and shaking the battery. Battery movement indicates that the hold-down is too loose.
Find the bolts attaching the battery to the hold-down – they are typically found where the hold-down bar crosses the top of the battery. To tighten the bolts, turn the socket wrench in a clockwise direction.
Open the vent covers on top of the battery and use a flashlight to examine the interior of each cell. The battery fluid must cover the battery plates, otherwise, the fluid level is inadequate. Add distilled water until it reaches the bottom of the cell refill openings and covers the battery plates.
7. Check the battery fluid level regularly and add distilled water if needed
Remember to always use distilled water and never tap water. This is because the dissolved minerals in tap water can adversely affect the performance of the battery. Be sure to check the battery fluid levels every six months or each time you change the oil.
Always purchase a new battery when it's time to replace the old one. The battery's production date can be found on the side. For the finest battery performance, choose one that was produced very recently.
8. Purchase a battery that’s no older than a month when replacing your battery
Old batteries degrade over time, therefore, it’s always best to buy the most recently manufactured battery. A battery that is more than a month old will likely last less time than one that is brand-new. A used, cheap battery should never be purchased, as it won't live very long.