12 Dos and Don’ts When Caring for Your Car Battery
No car part ever made can be so simple yet so essential than your car’s battery. This boxy, yet unobtrusive object doesn’t really like to make its presence known that much — except when your engine’s dead and you’re stranded on a deserted highway.
All cars — even the most powerful, expensive, and technologically-advanced, are completely helpless when their car batteries are dead. This should make you think twice about taking yours for granted.
Even your battery needs TLC every now and then. Here are some of the things you should and shouldn’t do when caring for your car’s battery:
1. Do familiarize your senses on your car’s engine so you can easily spot signs of impending battery death.
Training yourself to notice how your car works normally allows you to easily recognize signs of problems For instance:
- How bright is your car’s headlights when functioning properly?
- What does your car smell like? Are there strange smells coming from your car that you’re not familiar with?
When you get used to how your car and its engine function normally, your senses will be more attuned if things are out of place. A murky headlight means that the car’s battery might be going down, while a surphuric smell can indicate leaking batteries — or catalytic converter problems.
Whatever the case, knowing that something is wrong with your car allows you to take steps to solve the problems earlier that waiting for things to get worse.
2. Do inspect the terminal clamps to see if they are tight and free from corrosion.
Corrosion is the bane of all car parts — including batteries. You can clean them by mixing one or two tablespoons of baking soda and water, then brushing the corroded part with a wire brush. By the way, before you do this, make sure to turn off the engine first and disconnect the cables. Once you do this, you can brush both the negative and positive posts on the battery with a wire brush.
If there’s a lot of corrosion, it would be best to have them cleaned by professionals, instead.
3. Do disconnect the battery if you plan to keep your car in storage for a long time.
It’s normal for batteries to self-discharge slowly even if you’re not using your car. You can prevent unnecessary battery drain by simply disconnecting them — especially if you don’t plan to use your vehicle for a long time.
4. Do keep jumper cables inside your emergency kit / tools.
You should always have jumper cables in your car, because there’s always a possibility that your batteries can die out on you in an instant. If this happens on you, then you can always ask a friend or any random driver that passes by to help you jump-start your car. This can at least make you mobile enough to go to a nearest car mechanic or station to have your car inspected for problems.
5. Do protect your battery by using a special grease or spray designed for them.
These sprays are specially-designed for car batteries so they don’t get rusty and corroded.
1. Don’t make it a habit to completely discharge your battery.
Your car’s battery often works by harnessing the power generated by its lead cells. Discharging your battery can damage them fast.
2. Don’t let your car sit in hot places.
Heat is another enemy of car batteries. Hot temperatures actually cause the battery fluid to evaporate, which shortens its life in the process.
3. Don’t idle your car.
It’s easy to wait for someone even in your car. Just turn on your aircon, listen to the radio — and even charge your phone while you’re at it. This practice is not only gas-guzzling, but it can also be hard on your battery. It’s much better to turn the engine on from time to time so your car’s battery doesn’t do all the work when your car’s idle..
4. Don’t leave the lights on.
It’s one of the most common mistakes that people make — leaving their headlights or cabin lights on after they go home. This can drain your battery overnight, so do double checks before you get out of your car at night.
5. Don’t use your car’s alternator to charge a dead battery.
Your alternator is not designed to act as your battery’s charger, and doing so will damage or shorten your battery’s life.
6. Don’t disconnect the positive cable first when removing your car’s battery.
Always start with the negative cable first; otherwise, you might cause your battery to short-circuit.
7. Don’t use a high-charge setting when you’re charging your battery yourself.
Many chargers have a low-charge setting, and you should use this first as a safety precaution. If you don’t have this setting, then it’s better (and much safer) to let a professional do it for you.