While batteries for vehicles require far less maintenance than batteries of a few decades ago, carefully maintaining a battery will allow it to provide the power needed to start the vehicle.
It is important to remember that all car batteries will need to be replaced eventually. This timeline will depend on the battery quality, how it is used and how well it is maintained. Most modern types of batteries used on passenger vehicles will last four to five years, but some can last much longer under the right conditions.
Avoid Draining the Battery
One of the hardest things on a battery is to be fully drained, which is correctly known as being discharged. The most common causes of draining the battery include leaving the vehicle lights on. This can include the headlights or the interior lights.
When a battery is already not fully charging because it is nearing the end of its life, this discharge can happen much faster as the battery has little reserve capacity. Electrical shorts and other issues can also drain a battery.
All car batteries will discharge slightly on an ongoing basis to keep the clock and other electrical systems working. If the vehicle is not going to be driven for a couple of weeks or more, disconnect the negative terminal to prevent the discharge from draining the battery.
Cleaning the Terminals
Most car batteries will have their terminals at the top, but they can also be on the sides of some models and designs. When corrosion builds up between the terminal and the battery clamp, it can cause the battery to discharge faster or interfere with the charging.
Remove the clamps and using a wire brush, remove any built-up corrosive materials. It is also possible to use a mixture of baking soda and water and a toothbrush to do the same thing, just remember to rinse and dry the area.
Replace the clamps and tighten. If you notice corrosion, have the battery checked as there may be other factors that indicate a problem in the battery. Usually this process will only need to be done once or twice a year with a battery in good condition.
Finally, make sure your vehicle gets some highway driving on a regular basis. This will allow the battery to charge fully and prevent problems with charging at a later time. Experts recommend an extended drive of at least 20 minutes two times a week to give your battery the charge it needs.
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