You know the scenario. You come out of the grocery store after an hour with a basket full of cold groceries and the car refuses to start. The dash lights barely light up and you hear a familiar clicking sound when the key is turned. As you walk around to lift up the hood of the vehicle, you notice the headlights have been on the entire time you were inside the store. As your ice cream melts, you wait for rescue. Battery life in cars is a delicate balance. Situations like this can only be remedied by a jump start, however, other battery complications can be prevented. There are a few things that can be done to maximize the life of your car battery and minimize the chances of a surprise dead battery.
Cars that sit for long periods without being driven are more likely to suffer a drained battery. The battery charges while you drive. Your car battery still emits small amounts of power when the car is idle. This can add up to enough to drain the entire power source over time. A car that sits for two weeks or more is at the most risk. To prevent battery failure from this situation, take disconnect the negative battery terminal until you plan to use the car again. This is a simple battery saving step.
Scrub it Up
Loose and dirty connections to the battery can limit the amount of power available. Battery terminals collect debris over time. Thick buildup is also a problem. Clean the terminals on a regular basis, about every three months, for best results. This can be done with a wire brush Baking soda and water can be mixed to form a paste. Apply the mixture to an old toothbrush and use it to scrub the battery terminals. The baking soda reacts with the corrosion on the terminals and causes it to dissipate. This simple action keeps the battery working at maximum capacity.
The best way to keep the battery charged is to use it regularly. The battery is charged by the alternator during driving activity. If you do not want to disconnect your battery, take the car for a short drive. It only takes about 20 minutes of driving to keep the battery charged. Take a drive around your neighborhood or run a short errand. Do this at least twice a week to keep your battery sufficiently charged.
Modern day devices, such as cell phones and tablets, put a strain on car batteries. In an attempt to stay connected, people often plug in their devices to charge even when the car is not running. This is a big mistake. Battery use should not be initiated while the car is off. Save the charging for while you are in transit.
A battery that becomes disconnected by accident cannot start. Bumpy roads are the norm in many busy cities. Potholes and construction zones leave streets in less than stellar conditions. All of this moving around can cause the battery connections to come loose. If you arrived at your destination with a running battery and find that it fails to start afterwards, check the connections before calling for help. Sometimes it simply a matter of reconnecting a loose cable. A particularly turbulent ride can cause it to loosen. The connections can also loosen over time. Check these regularly.
A healthy car battery can be maintained with some regular care. Take the time to sufficiently charge your battery on a regular basis. Maintenance should also involve regular cleaning and the checking of connections. You can easily extend your battery life and avoid a rescue call with these easy steps.