Did you know most people kill their car battery way before the actual battery’s lifespan?
The truth is most people have a lack of knowledge on how to properly maintain a car battery.
But who could blame the average Joe?
We buy a car because we need it as a way of transportation and convenience. Not because we are an expert in cars or anything remotely close to it.
Of course, the average Joe wouldn’t know much about a car’s battery, how a car battery works, or how to recondition a car battery in case it loses power and dies.
It is extremely important to educate yourself on how to maintain your car in the best shape possible to prolong its lifespan and keep you safe in your travels. That would be the most logical thing to do, right.
Well, you’re going to start with your car’s battery today. In this article, you will learn 12 tips and tricks to extend the life of your car battery.
If you follow the right steps and maintain the discipline to take good care of your car’s battery you can fully use its potential until the time it is supposed to completely die.
Why does a car battery die?
First, you should know that there is a limit to every car battery’s lifespan.
Most people kill their car’s battery before the battery’s lifespan cycle.
Car batteries have a set lifespan. It is called the battery’s “Calendar Life”.
How long is a “Calendar Life” of a car battery?
The answer varies and it is independent of how many times the battery has been charged or discharged. But on average your car battery should live for 5 or more years. Then it will become unusable once the “Calendar Life” is over.
What we know is that most car batteries never make it their full “Calendar Life”.
Most car batteries die early because of poor maintenance and care.
What a crime.
But today you can learn how to extend the life of your car battery and be able to fully use it to its last days.
Back to the question;
Why does a car battery die so fast?
We’ll take a look at the lead-acid batteries.
Lead-acid batteries are the oldest, the most dependable, and the most widely used type of rechargeable battery in the world.
What you need to know is the phases of these types of car batteries they go through.
Three Life Phases – Lead-Acid Battery
Formatting, Peak, and Decline.
Formatting is when the car battery is new and needs to be used gently.
The Peak is the ideal performance phase of the car battery, which we seek to maintain for as long as possible.
The Decline Phase is a slow process, but it is the one that gradually ends in the termination of the car battery.
Here’s the thing, batteries in decline can still be used for quite a while but must be carefully watched.
When your car battery is in the decline phase you’ll have two options; you can either recondition the battery or keep a close eye on it but you’ll have to replace it very soon.
If you would like to learn how to recondition a sealed car battery at home – watch this video with more tips.
Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of car battery maintenance.
We’ve created an infographic with all of the tips and tricks to extend the life of your car battery. Below the infographic, you will find a more detailed explanation of each point.
Want to SHARE this informational infographic? – Just copy and paste the html code below.
12 Simple Ways to Extend the Life of Your Car Battery
1. Do a monthly inspection of the battery terminals to make sure they are clean and corrosion-free.
One of the most common problems people have with their car battery is the build-up of corrosion around the terminals and cables. Corrosion destroys the connection between the car battery and the vehicle and many batteries are replaced due to too much corrosive build-up.
Don’t be one of them.
This can be easily treated by simply pouring a small amount of Cola or a DIY anti-corrosion paste (one part water to three parts baking soda) over the corroded areas.
Cleaning your car battery with coke is one thing that you can do at home.
If you didn’t know, the acid in the soda (a coca-cola for instance) will eat the corrosion away and leave your car battery terminals clean.
Also, you can learn how to use baking soda to clean battery terminals and get the corrosion away easily. The alkaline properties in the DIY anti-corrosion paste can do wonders.
Once the corrosion is gone you can use a clean damp rag to finish cleaning it up. Let it dry, and then rub some petroleum jelly on the ar battery terminals to prevent from future corrosions.
*note: please see our safety tips at the end of this blog post before disconnecting/reconnecting your car battery.
2. Measure your battery’s voltage at least once a month.
Check your lead-acid battery’s voltage with a voltmeter once a month or perhaps once every three months (quarterly).
The thing about lead-acid batteries is that their life will shorten dramatically when it is left partially or fully discharged for a long time.
What voltage should my car battery be?
12.7 volts or above when the battery is fully charged.
If the voltage drops below 12.5 volts you’d need to recharge the battery as soon as possible.
Lead-Acid Car Battery Voltage Guideline
- 12.7 volts – fully charged
- 12.5 volts – needs a recharge
- 12.4 volts – considered to be half charged
- 12.0 volts – completely flat/dead
These guidelines will help you keep track of your car battery’s voltage. Invest in a voltmeter to track your car battery’s voltage regularly.
3. Make sure the car battery is well-secured and has good battery cables.
The battery has to be very secure at all times to prevent any accidents. If a battery is jostling around it will be impaired and could short circuit. You don’t want that happening. Right.
This can really damage your car battery and it is also a safety risk.
Make sure your car battery is secured with good bolts and screws. Also, make sure the car battery cables are in good shape and are connected correctly. Make sure the car battery cables are tightened up.
4. Stop operating any car accessories while the car engine is off!
If the car is on, the car alternator generates electricity and that means it will recharge the car battery after the battery has a voltage drop.
When the car is not on, you are literally draining the power stored in the car battery. If you do it for too long it will deplete the energy of the car battery.
Car batteries are not meant to be used this way.
A car battery is supposed to give the ignition enough power to kick-start and get the engine running. Then, it will use the alternator to recharge itself to keep you going as far as you need to go.
Stop charging your phone and listening to music while your car engine is off for a long period of time. This can really damage your car’s battery in the long-run. Think about it.
5. Do not stop driving your car for long periods of time.
It should be clear by now the fact that lead-acid car batteries must be kept fully charged at all times to prevent damage.
Lead-acid batteries ‘self-discharge’. This means a car battery will naturally lose charge over time.
Flooded Lead-Acid Battery Discharge Rate
- 0.25% per day at 50°F (10°C)
- 1% per day at room temperature
- 1.5% per day at 86°F (30°C)
If you are going to leave your car unused for a long period of time (a week or more) you should at least connect a trickle charger to keep the battery in tip-top condition.
6. Stop driving short trips too often.
Think about this for a moment or two.
Starting your car is a complex process for the car. Of course, to all of us, it might seem as simple as turning the key in the ignition and get driving right away. Right.
In order to ignite your car engine, your car battery has to work super hard to release that kind of power. So it loses a lot of its power just at the ignition. The great thing is that your alternator has the capability to recharge your car battery as you drive. This is a super cool process if you asked me.
Now, imagine this, if you are driving a really short distance (a block or two for an instance) it will be impossible for the car battery to regain the amount of power lost during ignition. I think that would be the logical explanation to understand the statement that doing short trips often for too long can damage your car’s battery.
If you are going to be doing a lot of very short drives you should definitely consider investing in a battery charger to help you maintain a healthy car battery voltage. Or you could just avoid very short drives at all costs. Get a bike!
7. Try to insulate your car battery from extreme changes in temperature.
Protecting your car battery from large changes in temperature will help maximize the battery’s lifespan. This is true. And to do this you can use a car battery insulation kit.
Newer model cars already have these kits installed typically, you’ll have to check and confirm. If your car doesn’t have one, you can easily install one yourself.
Just make sure it fits your car’s battery compartment before purchasing one.
Make sure these car battery insulation kits are acid-resistant to prevent any damage in the long run. By doing this you are protecting your car battery from the weird weather conditions we sometimes witness. Be nice, protect your car battery.
8. Do your best to avoid heat exposure.
Most people have the wrong idea that cold weather kills car batteries.
This is not entirely true. Believe it.
Of course, your lead-acid car battery has to work harder to start your car engine during the cold weather. But that is not a reason to kill a lead-acid car battery.
The main reason why your car battery would fail during the winter months is because of the damage sustained during the previous summer (heat period).
Remember that car batteries need water in order to operate. Extreme heat will increase the rate of water evaporation from the cells inside.
And when the cold temperatures come around your battery will not have enough water to crank up the power in order to ignite the engine – so it will use thick oil causing your car battery to get damaged.
What can you do to keep your car battery as cool as possible?
You can’t really avoid the heat during summer but you can help it by parking your car in the shade as often as possible or parking inside a garage.
You can also look at ways to help insulate your car battery from heat generated within the engine bay.
Just do your best.
9. Fully charge your car battery at least once a week (use a car battery charger or interchange batteries if you have to).
Your car battery drains even when the car is off.
This happens because the current is drawn from the battery by car accessories (radio, lights, etc.) or car computers.
But to prevent this, you can use either a car battery charger or a solar battery charger.
Car battery chargers (regular or solar) will maintain the optimum charge level of your car battery when the car is not in use.
They do this by providing enough power for the car accessories and car computer, so they don’t continuously draw current from the car battery when the car is off.
As you can imagine, these chargers are very useful. Especially if you go on a trip or leave your car unused for a while.
They’re also useful if you go on a lot of short car trips (like to work and back each day) and never give your battery a chance to fully recharge.
Repeatedly doing this will dramatically shorten your battery’s life – unless you use a car battery charger or interchange batteries, leaving one at home to fully charge.
The most important thing to remember with this tip is to make sure you fully charge your car battery at least once a week because it will greatly increase the life of your battery.
Do this with a charger, interchanging batteries, or just going on a car ride long enough to recharge the battery.
10. Check your car battery’s water level.
Most car batteries indicate if there is a need for water.
So check the car battery water level indicator regularly and if the water is needed, refill the battery with distilled water (and that’s important, ONLY use distilled water to refill your car battery).
This is a simple task, yet very important for your lead-acid battery.
11. Do NOT overcharge your car battery.
Never overcharge your car battery. The proper amount of a car battery voltage is between 12.7v – 14.7v. Anything over would mean your car battery is overcharging.
Lead-acid batteries release oxygen and hydrogen gases when they’re overcharged.
This causes two problems:
1. It can be explosive.
2. It also breaks down the composition of the water in the battery – which shortens its lifespan.
Keep it simple and just don’t overcharge your car battery.
12. Check your car’s alternator regularly.
If you’re doing everything we’ve recommended in this blog post but your car batteries are still dying early, you’ll want to check your car’s alternator (or get a mechanic to check it).
If your alternator is bad it will results in ineffective recharging of your battery and dramatically shorten your battery’s lifespan. Never forget about your car’s alternator when you are having car battery problems.
Your car’s alternator is the one responsible to recharge your car battery so if it is not working properly then your car battery will not work properly.
Now you know how to extend the life of your car battery by following simple tips. Here are a few extra tips on car battery safety.
Important Car Battery Safety Precautions:
Safety Precaution #1
Before disconnecting your car battery read the car owner’s manual first. Most commonly (if not stated otherwise in the owner’s manual) the negative cable is to be disconnected first and then the positive cable.
When you re-connect the battery, connect the positive cable first and then the negative cable.
If done in the wrong order it may affect your car’s fuses and other electronics.
Also, remove your car keys from the ignition before working on the battery. Some cars are more sensitive to this procedure than others – like German Luxury Cars (Mercedes Benz and BMW type cars) – so use extra caution.
Safety Precaution #2
If you are charging a battery do it in a well-ventilated area.
If you are handling a car battery that is installed you should open the hood of the car for a few minutes to allow for ventilation first.
What can you do if your car battery dies?
If your car battery dies or is in the decline phase all hope is not lost – don’t worry. You can still recondition the battery and bring it back to life again.
There’s a simple method that you can learn in the EZ Battery Reconditioning program that will bring a dead (or dying) 12v lead-acid car battery back to life again.
It’s simple and quick.
And this easy 12v car battery reconditioning method will extend the life of your car battery even longer than the tips we discussed in this article.
If you learn how to recondition a sealed car battery at home you will be able to save money because you can re-use your reconditioned car battery instead of buying a new overpriced battery. Click here to learn more about the EZ Battery Reconditioning Program.
We’d really appreciate it if you share this article with someone who can benefit from the information. Thank you for visiting.