Car batteries are one of those few things that we don’t often think about that make a huge difference to our lives every day. In fact, for most people, a healthy battery is the only thing keeping their car from being a really expensive lawn ornament.
Though this might seem a bit of an overexaggerating, it’s kind of true. If your car doesn’t start each time you ask it to, it is no longer really useful at all.
So how can you make sure your battery is going to start your car each time?
For most batteries, keeping in good health means maintaining a reasonable amount of charge, having the right conditions and (occasionally) being topped up.
Though it’s not as common now, topping up a battery used to be a key part of servicing and maintaining a vehicle. This is because, in the early days of vehicle batteries, it was a lot more common to see a serviceable lead/acid/flooded battery. These flooded batteries used a combination of lead plates and acid to store and release electricity and needed to be regularly topped up with demineralised water.
While this was common on a lot of older vehicles, many battery manufacturers have since created maintenance free flooded batteries for use in modern vehicles. Which brings us to our other points, maintaining charge and the right conditions.
Maintaining the charge rate of a battery can really be as simple as driving the vehicle regularly. In fact, most cars will recharge the battery to a serviceable state after 15-20 minutes of driving though, we would recommend taking your car for a 30-minute drive at least once every 1-2 weeks.
If you have a vehicle that’s not regularly driven you can also install things like trickle chargers to keep the battery topped up in between uses. However, we recommend running a car every 1-2 weeks to keep the engine in good health anyway.
The other main killer of modern batteries is changing weather. Even though it seems silly, batteries can have vastly shortened life spans and performance based on the conditions they’re placed in.
In most cases, the higher the outside temperature is, the shorter the average battery life is. Alternatively, the colder the outside temperature is, the longer a battery will last (however, colder temperatures mean less available power).
The best way to mitigate the effects of heat is simple, keep the temperature of the battery down. The easiest way to do this is to make sure the car is parked undercover where the battery compartment can’t be heated up.
All in all, it’s relatively simple to keep a car battery in good health and it really comes down to 3 simple steps, drive the car regularly, park the car somewhere shady and (if not being used for a longer period) install a trickle charger.
If you have any questions about this blog post, would like a second opinion from a mechanic or would like to find an honest mechanic in Brisbane, check out Kashy here.