Did you know: Only 30% of car batteries make it to 48 months? And this depends on where you live. Battery life can range from 51 months in extremely cold areas to just 30 months in extremely hot climates.
Why is that? The many electronic accessories found in modern cars are to blame. Things like, cellphone chargers, GPS devices, DVD players and on board computers keep car batteries from maintaining a full charge. – and he longer a battery goes with a low charge, the sooner it will die.
This means that the battery must be frequently recharged. This is the job of the alternator. Typically, the alternator should be able to keep up. However, problems arise when a car’s demand for electricity is constantly high and you are driving in stop and go conditions or short trips around town. The alternator just can’t keep up and charge the battery properly. This results in a shorter battery life.
If you’ve ever found yourself with a dead car battery, you know just how frustrating it can be – not to mention the cost of replacing it. To make sure that this is an event that you experience as infrequently as possible, try out the following tips for making your car battery last.
1. Keep It Clean
Everything works better when clean, and that goes for car batteries as well. A battery’s terminals are a common spot for corrosion buildup, blocking the current from passing from the battery to the cables. If you think your battery has died, you can try to scrape the corrosion away with a screwdriver or pliers, or call a professional if it looks serious. Then tighten the clamps and turn the ignition. You may find that your “dead” battery has come back to life.
It also makes good preventative sense to wipe your battery clean every now and then. You may not know it, but dirt and other gunk on the casing of your battery can actually drain its power. It’s a simple fix; just use a damp rag to keep it squeaky clean.
2. Wrap It Up
If there’s some extra room around the battery, consider installing an insulation blanket. The plastic sheet will keep your battery warm during the winter and cool in the summer, greatly extending its life. If you’re buying a new battery, think about going for a smaller size so you can fit the blanket around it- it will likely last longer than a larger battery with nothing protecting it.
3. Keep It Charged
Keep your battery as close to a fully charged as possible. This can be harder than you think, because letting your car sit without starting for just twenty-four hours in hot weather can be enough to significantly drain your battery. During cold weather, letting your car sit without starting for several days sitting for several days will frequently cause a complete discharge. Similarly, using your headlights, radio or other power accessories when the car is off can severely deplete your battery. If you suspect that your battery may be depleted, some highway driving will help replenish it and keep your battery fully charged.
Using the alternator to recharge from a deeply depleted state is very hard on your battery because it charges too fast. In fact, on average, your battery would only last for ten recharges like that.
4. Give It A Break
Going away for a few weeks, or giving up driving for a while? Try totally disconnecting your battery. This will keep all the small accessories, like your clock, from draining your battery’s power. Before trying this, however, make sure that you know what you are doing. Follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations or consult with one of out experienced technicians at George’s Transmission and Auto repair.
5. Keep Short Trips To A Minimum
This is especially true for cold climates, where starting the car is extra taxing on the battery. But the principle applies to warmer climates as well: the less often you start your car, the less work your battery has to do. So try to keep short trips to a minimum. Try combining several short errands into one longer trip, or take your bike, public transit or walk if you’re up for it.
6. Invest In a Good Quality Charger
Another alternative if you do find yourself with a dead or very low battery, is to use a good quality battery charger to slowly bring the battery up to full charge. Because batteries are so often at less than a full charge, experts suggest that you use a battery charger from time to time to keep the charge up. It’s generally recommended to charge with a charger once a month during hot weather and once every three months during colder times.
Always take care to follow your car manufacturer’s instructions as well as the instructions on the charger.
7. Prepare Your Battery For A Jump Start
If you find yourself with a dead battery and have no choice but to jump it, it’s still possible to reduce some of the stress that the process puts on the battery. The fact is, the warmer your battery is before the jump start, the better. The ideal process is, if possible, to put your car in neutral and push it into the sunlight, then leaving it there for an hour or so. The increased temperature will make the jump start go much more smoothly and put a lot less strain on your battery.
Deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.