Most of us don’t even think about our car’s battery until it’s completely drained, and we’re left stranded wondering how our car could have betrayed us. Batteries weren’t made to last forever, and most Arizonans know this to be true. While in some states a battery can last between three and five years, we’re lucky to get two years out of ours. In spite of their short life here in the desert, there are ways to care for your battery to squeeze a little more time out of them. Learn how to extend your car battery life with our tips.
Your car’s battery is a crucial part of getting your car started but also serves to keep accessories such as power windows and the radio powered and act as a surge protector. Because you rely so much on your battery to make your ride more enjoyable, it’s important to keep your battery in tip-top condition.
Just a few simple steps to care for your battery will help keep it powered longer so that you can get more miles out of your battery.
1. Keep It Clean
A short circuit can occur from the battery discharging across the grime which can eventually lead to a loss of charge. This can be avoided by making sure the top of the battery is dry, clean, and free from any debris or other filth. Over time battery cables can corrode, as well. To clean them, using a steel brush, disconnect the cables and clean the interior connectors and the exterior terminals.
2. Keep It In Place
Vibrations and movement are extremely detrimental to your car’s battery, causing short circuits that will eventually kill the battery. Additionally, a battery that isn’t secured properly is a safety risk. If you needed to stop quickly, run over a large bump, or are in an accident, without the use of clamps, the battery could short out on the metal in close proximity, and cause a fire. Using the correct clamps and tightening them properly will ensure your battery is secure for the ride. Be sure to take caution though and avoid overtightening it as it could damage the battery.
3. Keep It Charged
Lead-acid batteries will naturally lose their charge over time. Though this “self-discharge” is natural, you can reduce the speed of its progression by driving your car. Car batteries reduce their charge by about 1% per day at room temperature, however, in temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the rate increases to 1.5%. This is often because most vehicles today draw a small amount of electricity from the battery when not in use to keep electrical components operating. In addition, should your vehicle have a short in the electrical system or a parasitic drain from an electrical device left on such as a trunk light, map light, or a defective computer component, it can increase the rate of the discharge. Connect your battery to a tender charger to keep the battery charged while not in use for an extended period such as while you are on vacation for over a week.
4. Keep On Truckin’
Avoid taking frequent short trips. As you drive, your battery continues to recharge. Short trips prevent the battery from being able to recharge and over time, the voltage is so diminished that the battery is unable to help start the car. You can help keep your battery charged by driving often and for longer periods of time. If possible, plan your day and try to run all your errands at once instead of a quick trip here and home only to leave again for another. If short trips are unavoidable, consider using a battery charger to help sustain voltage.
5. Keep It Cool
Extreme heat can really take a toll on batteries. The heat increases the evaporation of water from the cells, including sealed top batteries. While some evaporation is normal, too much heat greatly increases the rate of evaporation. Though extreme heat in Arizona is unavoidable, you can help relieve some of the heat by parking in the shade or a garage. Even just a couple of degrees could make a difference in keeping your battery charged! In addition to outside temperatures, your engine also gives off a lot of heat. You can prevent your battery from taking on heat from the engine by keeping it insulated.
6. Keep Off
Avoid using any electrical accessories, such as the radio, while the engine is not in use. Before exiting your vehicle once the engine is disengaged, be sure all interior and headlights are off. Many vehicles today are equipped to automatically turn lights off, but it’s always a good idea to double-check this option is selected before you leave your car, or you may come back to a dead battery.
7. Keep It In Check
The lifespan of a lead-acid battery is greatly shortened when it is left partially or fully discharged. A fully charged battery should measure 12.7 volts or higher on a multimeter. If the voltage is below 12.5, the battery should be recharged. A battery is only half charged at 12.4 volts and at 12 volts, just one quarter charged. Your battery is considered dead once it falls to 11.9 volts. Modern vehicles demand more voltage to operate all the electronics and when the battery’s charge is reduced, the starter will struggle to get the vehicle started.
Want to keep your battery for as long as possible? Just bring your car to the experts at Sun Devil Auto! Did you know we perform a battery test and visual inspection of your battery with every oil change? Our friendly technicians test the amps and voltage readings of your battery and will clean the cables and terminals, as well. Not time for your next oil change? We also offer a no-charge test at your request between oil changes! If your battery’s charge has fallen beyond the range of an acceptable charge and needs to be replaced, we can help with that, too! We provide top-quality batteries that are built to stand up to the demands of the severe climate here in the Phoenix area. Plus, with our incredible 5-year limited replacement warranty, you can depend on Sun Devil Auto to keep you moving.