QUICK 5-STEP GUIDE TO GETTING THE MOST OUT OF CAR BATTERIES:
- Keep the battery terminals clean and inspect them regularly (i.e. monthly) for corrosion; you can use petroleum jelly to prevent corrosion from reaching the terminals.
- Start the car before operating car accessories and operate (drive) the car to allow the battery to get topped off by the car alternator, which produces electricity and, as a by-product, charges the car battery after voltage drops in the battery.
- Keep the battery secure and free from vibration. Batteries that shake can become damaged and short-circuited or, worse, cause damage to your car.
- Insulate the battery from extreme temperature changes with a car battery insulation kit. These usually come with new cars already, however you can find replacements specifically made to fit your car’s battery compartment. The sleeves are usually plastic or an acid-resistant/thermal resistant material that insulates your battery but still allows it to vent.
- Invest in a car battery charger that will maintain an optimum charge level when your car is not in use or when you go on vacation.
One last recommendation:
Check the car battery water level indicator on a regular basis! Most car batteries will indicate if it needs more water. It may never require water, but if so only use deionised water.
“Use it or Lose it”
- Avoid frequent short trips in your car.
- If you don’t drive very often, invest in a good car charger like the Noco Genius 26000, which has multiple capabilities such as float charging, pulse mode to remove sulfation, charging flexibility to support various battery types, fail-safe modes, a temperature sensor for monitoring the ambient temperature to automatically adjust the charge profile as conditions change.
- If you go on holiday, often invest in a car charger to maintain your car battery. This also prevents your battery from going dead (flat), which can cause onboard car computers to fail.
- Avoid operating car accessories if the car is not running.
- A healthy battery gets discharged 10-20% and then recharged to full capacity. Performance data indicate that only 5-10% of batteries that get discharged tend to last the longest.
- Make sure the CCA rating of your battery is equal to or greater than the CCA rating of your vehicle.
WHY IS MY BATTERY DRAINING WHEN MY CAR IS OFF?
The battery loses capacity from self-discharging. If it is connected to your car, it could also have a small load from accessories or car computers that will draw current from the battery, which will also aid in the battery losing capacity if it is not being recharged. Bad cables causing short circuits and bad alternators which don’t effectively recharge the battery are sometimes the culprit as well. If you suspect a bad alternator, you should take your car to a car battery specialist or a mechanic that can test the battery and check for parasitic drain.
Car Battery Tip #1
If you plan to disconnect your car battery from your car, be sure you read your car owner’s manual! In most cases (unless otherwise stated in your manual) you will need to disconnect the negative cable first and then the positive cable. When reconnecting the battery, you use the reverse order by connecting the positive cable first and then the negative cable. Doing this simple step incorrectly can have adverse effects on fuses and other electronics, especially in Mercedes-Benz and BMW-type vehicles resulting in hundreds of pounds in repair. Even keeping the keys in the ignition when connecting or disconnecting may have negative effects, so always read the manual.
You can also invest in a specialized 12v battery or specialty device that will maintain power to the electronics in your car so onboard computers, lighting, fuses and car radios do not get affected. Many things you wouldn’t think about are actually controlled by computers in cars. So read the Car Manual before attempting removal of your car battery.
Car computers control things like your car idle settings and when reset may force you to make a visit to your mechanic. Also some car stereos may require a special code provided by the manufacturer to be entered if power is disconnected.
Car Battery Tip #2
Never overcharge your car battery! When lead-acid batteries are overcharged, they could release oxygen and hydrogen gases which could be explosive. Also this causes decomposition of the water in the battery leading to premature aging of the battery.
Never try to open a sealed lead acid battery to attempt something crazy like cleaning the lead plates. That’s just way too dangerous and not worth the health risk. It will also damage your battery and likely cause bodily injury. Batteries contain dangerous chemicals and heavy metals and create explosive gases when charging so never tamper with them and always charge in a well ventilated area. Before handling a car battery that is installed in your car, open the hood and allow time for natural ventilation to take place.