Maintaining Your Car Battery

battery

It is important to take care of your car’s battery to ensure that it has the longest life possible.  This is especially true during the winter season, when extreme temperatures put extra stress on your car battery. Cold temperatures make the battery work harder and, because the engine oil in your car is thicker, it is harder for the engine to turn over.

  • Try to avoid taking short trips, if possible. These type of trips will take a toll on your car battery, especially in cold weather.  The battery will drain faster if you regularly drive for 20 minutes or less because this does not allow your battery to fully charge.
  • Keep your car battery clean by wiping it off with a damp rag.  Dirt and grime can drain your battery.
  • Over time, you may find corrosion buildup on your battery, which will block the current from passing from the battery to the cables.  For a quick fix, simply scrape it away with a screwdriver or pliers.  To clean it more thoroughly, follow these steps:
  1. Disconnect the wires (first the negative/black one and then the positive/red one) and put them aside.

  2. Use a brass wire battery brush or old toothbrush to scrub the terminals with a mix of three tablespoons of baking powder and one tablespoon of warm water.  You can also use soda to remove corrosion. Pour a little over the corroded parts of the battery and let it sit.  Make sure you wear gloves and safety glasses while cleaning the corrosion, which contains sulfuric acid.

  3. Wipe the terminals with a wet towel and then use another towel to dry them.

  4. Once they are completely dry, Reader’s Digest suggests putting petroleum jelly around each terminal to prevent future buildup.

  • If there’s some extra room around the battery, consider installing an insulation blanket. The plastic sheet will keep the battery warm in 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 that you can fit the blanket around it.
  • Make sure your car is as warm as possible before jump-starting it.  CarBatteryLife.com recommends putting the car in neutral, pushing it into the sunlight, and then leaving it for an hour or so. The increased temperature will make the jump start go more smoothly.
  • In our part of the country, your car battery should last for about four years.  However, it is important to check your battery every two to three years.

Sources: news.discovery.com, humblemechanic.com, foxnews.com, auto.howstuffworks.com

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