How not to...IV

...prematurely replace your battery

3y ago
5.4K

Do you love forking out your hard-earned cash on a lovely clean and shiny new battery every so often? No, most of us don’t either. There are so many other things we’d rather spend our money on, like spinning wheel covers and fluffy dice to hang from the interior mirror for instance.

We typically don’t give a second thought to this little (heavy) black box under the bonnet, you just turn the key each morning and magic happens. Then one day it doesn’t and thoughts do indeed turn to that neglected little (heavy) black box under the bonnet which suddenly has nothing left to give. You find yourself standing there in the wet, cold or dark, pondering if there was anything, literally anything you could have done to avoid this unfortunate situation.

Well, sort of. They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes and this is also true of batteries. You pay tax on the purchase of your battery and it will most certainly die, eventually. But there are some things you can do (or rather avoid doing) in order to prolong the inevitable. So here are five DON’Ts when it comes to looking after your battery:

1. DON’T allow corrosion to collect or build up around the battery terminals and connections. This can prevent a good electrical contact, which can either cause the battery to discharge or just seem like it is; as insufficient current gets to the battery from the car’s charging system or insufficient current gets from the battery to the starter motor. Black tea or a bicarb soda solution is great for cleaning up battery terminals. It is then a good idea to treat them with a corrosion inhibitor – like that blue stuff the battery shop sprays on the terminals after they fit a new battery.

Don't allow corrosion on your terminals to go unchecked

Don't allow corrosion on your terminals to go unchecked

2. DON’T cook it. Heat is the biggest enemy of car batteries so if you can keep it cool it will return the favour with a longer life. Parking in the sun, radiated heat from the engine as well as over-charging or heavy use can heat the battery and shorten its life. Many newer cars have insulated battery housings, heat shields or ventilation in order to keep the battery cool, because let’s face it, there’s not a lot of spare space under the hood these days.

It is not only the space shuttle that benefits from a heat shield to prevent premature death

It is not only the space shuttle that benefits from a heat shield to prevent premature death

3. DON’T freeze it. Funnily enough, while heat is the biggest enemy of batteries, they’ll typically fall off their perch in the cold. Which is just when you feel like leaving the car at home and riding your bike to work…or maybe not. Park your car in a garage or under cover if at all possible when it is really cold; your battery, and probably many other parts of the car, will thank you for it.

4. DON’T discharge it. So you left your lights on and now the battery has gone flat. No problem you say, since you have a set of jumper leads in the boot. Jump starting will get you going again (notwithstanding the risks associated with jump starting modern computerised cars – that’s the subject of a whole other article), but fully discharging the battery does it no favours and will shorten its life, more so if you do it repeatedly.

Leaving your lights on won't do your battery any favours

Leaving your lights on won't do your battery any favours

5. Finally, DON’T wait until your battery finally dies. Murphy’s law states that this will invariably happen on a dark and stormy night in a ghetto-like suburb, off the mobile phone network and out of reach of most law-abiding citizens, at which time the extra month or two you might have gotten out of that battery just doesn’t seem worth it. Get your battery tested regularly, particularly if it is more than about 3 years old (even earlier if you live in a harsh climate) and replace it once it shows signs of weakness. Modern car batteries perform their job admirably but have an unfortunate habit of dying suddenly; one minute they work, the next they’re just an expensive door stop.

Murphy's law says you'll break down out here

Murphy's law says you'll break down out here

These are just a few tips on how to extend the service life of your car’s battery and prevent you from having to replace it prematurely. You can easily spot those who take good care of their battery; they are those with the money to spare on spinning wheel covers and fluffy dice.

#Advice

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Comments (3)

  • Hi congratulations - your post has been selected by DriveTribe engineering Ambassador for promotion on the DriveTribe homepage.

      3 years ago
  • good piece guys

      3 years ago
  • I'm still waiting for a major traffic jam to be caused one clear frosty morning by one of those cars that auto-stalls at every traffic light - then we'll see how much fuel that "feature" saves.

      3 years ago
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