How To Preserve Car Battery Life
June 17, 2019
BY MATTHEW C. KEEGAN / ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 2, 2019 / NATIONAL AUTOMOTIVE PARTS ASSOCIATION /
Your car battery is weak and you don’t know what is draining it. Likely, a combination of reasons is a factor here, including extreme weather and your driving habits. With care, you can extend battery life beyond the usual few years that it’s expected to last. We’ll take a look at how to preserve car battery life in an effort to reduce the risk of you someday becoming stranded.
Tips and Tricks for Preserving Car Battery Life
You can preserve battery life and have fun doing so. It’s a game you can win by effectively delaying its replacement time.
1. Make It Lights Out
Turn off the lights when the car isn’t running. Most modern cars have automatic headlights, which cut power when the ignition is off. For everyone else, you’ll need to manually extinguish the lights. Every minute the lights are left on will reduce the battery’s effectiveness.
2. Protect Your Vehicle
In extreme weather conditions, such as when temperatures top 100 degrees Fahrenheit or drop below zero, lead sulfate crystals quickly build up and will drain the battery. You can’t control the weather, but you can protect your car by keeping it in a garage or other shelter. At the very least, isolate it from the wind.
3. Enjoy a Long-Distance Drive
Nothing sucks the life out of a car battery more than short drives. Stop-and-go traffic increases wear and tear on all vehicle components. Take the occasional longer trip away from trafficked areas and the battery will fully recharge. Besides, you’ll enjoy the change of scenery!
4. Check the Alternator
A faulty alternator can drain battery life and leave you stranded. Check the alternator with a voltmeter while the engine is on and with all accessories and lights turned off. The reading should register between 12.5 and 12.8 volts. If you already ruled out the battery’s condition, then a bad alternator diode, loose belts or a worn tensioner may be to blame.
5. Inspect and Maintain the Battery
Yes, nearly every car battery today is maintenance-free. This means it comes sealed with the liquid packed safely inside. But “maintenance free” only extends to the battery itself — you need to pop the hood occasionally and check the cable connections. If they’re loose or corroded, then tighten or clean them. The problem isn’t always the battery, but sometimes with the connection points.
6. Turn Off the Accessories
Today’s vehicles have more accessories than ever before. Navigation systems, driver-assist technology, fog lights, security alarms, zoned climate control systems, and a host of other accessories are available. When not in use, the systems that are not safety-related should be turned off as each one drains the battery. Use them only as needed and preferably not at once.
Battery Lifespan and Replacement
How long should a car battery last? That’s open to debate, although battery manufacturers routinely warranty their batteries for three to five years. If your battery dies early, you’ll typically receive a pro-rated credit toward the purchase of a new one. In the meantime, keep tabs on your car battery by using a multimeter to test its effectiveness. Allow the battery to sit idle for at least an hour before connecting. If it registers just 12 volts, then it may be time for a replacement.
By following these tips, you can extend your car battery’s life and ensure that it’s operating properly, reducing the risk of leaving you stranded.
Check out all the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of their 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to preserve car battery life, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo credit: Stefan Schweihofer (Pixabay).
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