Top 7 Ways to Extend Your Car’s Battery Life
How often do you replace your car’s battery? If it’s every one to two years, that’s just too short. Car batteries have an average calendar life of four-to-six years, so if you find yourself buying a new battery a lot more frequent than that, then it’s time to look at how you can improve battery life and help it reach the four-to-six benchmark. You can prevent your battery from dying early by following these top seven car battery maintenance tips.
1. Get to know your battery
Car battery manufacturers usually indicate on their products when these were manufactured by way of alphanumeric codes. The codes representing the battery’s manufacturing date are usually located on the positive terminal, with shipping date codes typically placed on the negative side. The positive terminal codes represent the month and day of completion, while those on the negative terminal side represent the month and year of shipping. Thus, a battery with E28 stamped on the positive terminal and G17 on the negative means the battery was assembled on May 28th and shipped from the factory around July of 2017.
You need to keep these dates in mind if your battery starts to show problem signs, such as dimming lights or hard starting. If the battery is relatively new, a simple recharge may fix the problem. But if the battery’s old, you may need to scrounge up some cash for a replacement.
2. Check the car’s lights before leaving
Arguably the most common cause of a battery drain is leaving the lights on overnight. Luckily, most modern cars have an auto-off functionality, but if your car doesn’t have this feature, you need to up your vigilance and get into the habit of checking your lights–both inside and out–before locking or leaving your car.
3. Keep it clean
When things are clean, they work better. This simple truth applies to your car battery as well. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, corrosion buildup will eventually occur, which can mess with the flow of electricity from the battery to the rest of the car’s electrical system. It makes good preventative sense to brush away any corrosion from the terminals every now and then.
4. Avoid short rides like the plague
The battery’s power cells need some time to get fully charged and operate in full force. Short trips prevent your battery from getting fully charged before you use it again–the alternator simply won’t be able to keep up and charge the battery completely. The result is shorter battery life. When you take out your car, you need to make sure you drive it for long periods. If you’re traveling somewhere that’s just 5 to 10 minutes away in a car, you’ll be better served by taking public transport, or better yet, walking.
5. Charge it
Your car’s electrical system continues to draw energy from the battery even when they are not turned on. That’s why it’s not unusual to find a battery dead after a lengthy period of non-usage. The old school approach is to disconnect the negative battery terminal, but this can erase all your electronic settings. The better way to go is to use an automatic battery charger to maintain your battery’s charge, although it’s going to set you back a few thousand pesos.
6. Use accessories sparingly when the engine is off
When the engine is off, the alternator is off as well, and all electrical accessories will drain power from the battery, with nothing to replace it. Make sure to avoid using any electrical feature until you have started your car’s engine. With the alternator running, your battery’s power is replenished while in use, ensuring your battery is kept at or near full charge during the entire duration of the drive.
7. Pay close attention to battery performance
Hard starting is the most common symptom of a depleted battery. As soon as you notice sluggishness when starting, you can either drive your car around for at least 30 minutes or recharge the battery with an automatic charger. Likewise, for your peace of mind, make sure to monitor other issues that indicate the need for battery replacement, such as a swollen/bloated battery case, low battery fluid levels, check engine light turned on, and old age.