Could your car's battery be perhaps one of the most overlooked components in your vehicle?
If you think otherwise, we challenge you to change our minds. This tiny energy store is critical in your car's ability to function, supplying a source of ignition to the engine, and providing electricity to power your creature comforts like your in-car entertainment system.
Whilst these are inexpensive to replace (relative to the rest of the vehicle!), it can be a hassle to have to deal with a failing battery. Extend your car's battery life with these tips!
5. Ensure Electrical Systems Are Switched Off
It's pretty straightforward, but ensure that when you do leave your vehicle after you've parked it, that all the electrical systems are powered down. Common items that may be left on include your interior lights.
If you'd like to take the whole battery protection obsession to a whole 'nother level, you may want to actually switch off as many mission-uncritical electrical components before the engine is shut off. The idea with this, is to completely eliminate the electrical gubbins' heavy reliance on the 12V battery. Afterall, when the engine is still running, the alternator creates sufficient electrical power to minimise the loading on your car's battery.
Likewise, consider only switching on ancillary systems after your engine has been fired up.
4. Don’t Park In The Sun
Traditional lead-acid batteries can degrade if the temperatures get too high. Thermal degradation will lead to a break down of the battery chemistry, which then leads to a reduction in electrical capacity and reliability.
You really shouldn't be parking in direct sunlight anyways - unless there's no other alternative. The harmful UV rays can damage paint and plastics. And the increased thermal energies continue to wreak havoc in other areas too. Increased rate of evaporation from the battery's cells does mean a less effective battery.
The weakened battery will then be put through even more wear when it attempts to crank on cooler days, as there is greater resistance from cooler, thicker oil.
3. Don’t Let Your Car Sit For Too Long
(Photo Credit: Team BHP)
With most of us still working from home, our cars tend to see less use overall. Unless you have a car equipped with the latest iterations of the humble 12V battery, we suggest that you do not let your car sit for excessive periods.
The lead-acid chemistry of the traditional car battery means it will always have a very small internal parasitic drain. This process is better known as 'self-discharge'. At ambient temperatures, you can expect a discharge rate of 1.5% per day. Whilst unlikely, if the car is left parked for prolonged periods (upwards of 70 days or more), you can expect the battery to be flat.
If your car will really not see use at all for weeks on end, considering starting the car up at least once a week to ensure the battery is topped off!
2. Minimise Frequency of Short Trips
A car's starter motor requires a healthy amperage to actually allow the car to cough into life. This actually puts a lot of strain and current draw from the battery, which can only be recharged when the motor is running.
Which is something that cannot be efficiently done on shorter trips. Think about it - you are depriving the battery a chance to be topped off again if all you are doing is shuttling your family from carpark to carpark from inside an HDB estate. Besides, constantly turning your engine on and off will also accelerate the rate of wear of your starter motor, which can be a massive pain to replace (and more hassle means more cost!).
For inter-neighbourhood commutes, consider using alternative means of transportation. If there really is a must to stop by multiple areas in close proximity, a longer drive afterwards to top up your battery may not be a bad idea!
1. Secure The Battery
(Photo credits: Motor Hills)
Ensure your battery is adequately fastened. Factory mounting locations often have either a basic metal skeleton for your to secure your battery to the bodyshell, or a plastic/composite box that a battery is designed to reside in.
A loose battery can vibrate about the engine bay, creating an annoying rattling noise that would really be a huge bugbear on your daily commutes. This vibration can also damage battery internals, and even the terminals themselves, leading to a less effective delivery of power.
And don't forget that a battery contains corrosive acids that will eat into the metalwork of your vehicle. Vibrations will eventually puncture the outer shell of the battery itself, allowing the acids to leech out and causing damage to wires and also creating a potential precursor to unrepairable rust if left unattended.
Ensuring Your Car's Battery Health
Aside from changing your driving patterns, there are other ways to keep your battery in the pink of health. As a precaution, when your car is due for a service, it isn't unwise to get your mechanic to check on the state-of-charge of your car's battery. There are colour-coded chemical indicators built into most modern batteries, but an electrical reading is the most telling of its internal condition.
Having said that, as a general rule of thumb, keeping your battery clean and topped off where possible is a good starting point on extending your battery's lifespan. If you suspect your car's battery is failing, do consult a mechanic.
Psst - with a comprehensive list of trusted workshops, you are sure to find a car battery specialist workshop which can help you to diagnose and resolve any issues related to the component!
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