Battery Maintenance Tips for Your Car or Truck Battery

April 23, 2020

Image for Battery Maintenance Tips for Your Car or Truck Battery

A well-maintained vehicle battery is your assurance you’ll get from point A to point B and back again, many times over. Here are a few battery maintenance tips to help!

All too often, we take our car or truck batteries for granted. We get into our vehicle, turn the key, start it up, and off we go. But all it takes is one unexpected incident when your battery goes flat to prompt you to think differently about your battery maintenance.

Most of us are more careful with our mobile phone or laptop than we are with our auto batteries. But, they too have a limited life span. Eventually they simply won’t be able to hold a charge. The average lifespan of a lead-acid battery is around 42 months, but depends on a number of variables – such as hot or cold climates, journey lengths and the performance of your vehicle’s charging circuit.

The bottom line is, what can you do to extend the life of your battery? Here are some smart tips to consider if you want to get the most out of your car battery or truck battery.

Short trips reduce battery voltage

Every time you start your car, your battery gets a workout. Then during the trip, your engine recharges it. If you’re only driving a short distance it’s impossible for your battery to regain the amount of power lost. When you repeat the process daily the battery voltage will reduce steadily until it can no longer start the car.

Driving vehicle frequently and for longer periods of time will help maintain your battery. If you don’t use your vehicle very often, consider investing in a battery charger to help maintain the correct voltage.

Fasten your battery securely

Vibration can reduce the life of your car battery, so it’s vital that you always use an approved battery clamp to ensure that it’s properly held down. If not securely fastened, excessive vibration could damage your battery’s internal components – creating short circuits and reducing battery life.

But don’t make the mistake of over-tightening the battery clamp nuts to the limit of your strength – because you might damage the battery. Instead, simply tighten the nuts until you feel the resistance start and then continue for only an additional half turn.

A clean battery is a happy battery

Keep the top of your battery clean, dry, and dirt and grime free. A dirty battery can discharge across the grime on top of the casing, creating a mild short circuit which will eventually kill the battery.

The battery terminals will also corrode over time, and keeping them clean from buildup is a smart way to extend the life of your battery. Scrub the terminals with an old toothbrush dipped in baking soda and water. Then, using a spray bottle with cold water, rinse the mixture off, and dry it thoroughly.

Less heat exposure is best

Extreme heat is hard on batteries because it increases the rate of water evaporation from the cells – even in sealed top batteries. Then when colder weather kicks in, you have a weaker battery with less power as it tries to start a cold engine with thick oil.

So how do you avoid the heat? Park your vehicle in the shade when possible and keep your vehicle garaged while not in use. Or you can insulate the battery from heat generated within the engine bay with a battery sleeve from a manufacturer or auto parts retailer. These sleeves are typically made of hard plastic or an acid-resistant cloth and conform to the size and shape of your battery.

Check your battery’s voltage once a month

If you leave a lead-acid battery partially or fully discharged, it will shorten its life dramatically. Check the voltage with a voltmeter once a month for a healthier battery. A fully charged lead-acid battery should have a voltage of around 12.7 volts or more.

If the voltage drop below 12.5 volts, it’s best to recharge the battery as soon as possible. Also, remember that a lead-acid car battery is considered to be half charged at 12.4 volts, and completely flat or dead at 12.0 volts.

Continental Battery is a renowned battery distributor of high quality batteries and service with 75 nationwide branches and 20,000 dealer locations throughout the U.S. We got our start 88 years ago in downtown Dallas, and today we follow the same guiding principles that we did then: battery excellence, friendly customer service, and a commitment to trust and reliability. Find a Continental Battery location near you.