How to Maintain Your Car Battery

Many batteries now are called maintenance free, which means they do not need topping up because they have sealed systems. However, even these need some care.

Check the connections to the terminals are tight and smear them with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to prevent corrosion. Do not use other greases because many conduct electricity.

Car Battery maintain How to Maintain Your Car Battery

Keep the top of the battery clean because dirt traps moisture on damp days and allows power to ‘leak’ between the terminals. If you get white chemical deposits on the battery, the acid is leaking out. On a maintenance-free battery this can only mean the casing is cracked so the battery must be replaced. On batteries that aren’t maintenance free it may only mean that one of the top-up plugs hasn’t been put back properly and the deposits need to be washed off with water.

Batteries that are not maintenance free need the electrolyte levels checked. If it is low, top it up with distilled or deionised water to either the maximum filling mark on the outside of the battery or, if it doesn’t have markings, to about 1 cm above the lead plates.

You can reduce the drain on your battery by switching off unnecessary items, which also reduces fuel consumption. Don’t put miserliness before road safety, but every time the alternator has to work harder to supply more power, it adds to fuel consumption. Admittedly it isn’t much – a rear wiper uses about 0.2 litres of petrol an hour – but it adds up.

Battery helping tips

  • As soon as a high drain device, like the heated rear screen, has done its job, switch it off.
  • Avoid sitting in a parked car with everything turned on, even with the engine running.
  • Don’t turn things on until after you have started the car, leaving non-essentials like radios and phone chargers until ready to pull away.
  • Push the clutch pedal down when starting. This will reduce the load on the starter.
  • Turn off interior lights if you have the car doors open for long periods, like when cleaning it.
  • Run the engine if you use appliances that plug into the cigarette lighter, like tyre pumps or car vacuum cleaners.

Car Battery maintain 1 How to Maintain Your Car Battery

Early warning

If the battery has trouble starting the car, don’t ignore this early warning. It could suggest something simple, like a faulty connection, low electrolyte or the boot light staying on, which can be quickly rectified before you are left stranded. If a battery fails to start the car more than once, get it professionally checked because you don’t want to be stranded somewhere without even the power to run hazard warning lights.

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Related posts:

  1. How Does a Car Battery Work?
  2. How to Check Your Car Electrical System
  3. Homemade Auto Battery Charger
  4. How to Clean Car Battery Terminals
  5. How to Troubleshoot a Car That Won’t Start

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