The Battery Recharges When the Engine is Running
Firstly, a simple rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the battery recharges when the car is running. There are numerous ways this can factor into the battery life. For example, if you are parked with your car running, there is less of a chance that the battery will be draining during that time. If you are parked, however, the engine is off, and your headlights are on, your battery will drain.
Another factor is, if you are taking many short trips that involve you stopping and starting your car engine repeatedly, you run the risk of draining the battery. This occurs because the battery never gets a chance to recharge in between engine starts, which drains the battery.
Lastly, it is recommended that you let your vehicle run for a few minutes after it’s been jump started. This gives the battery a chance to recharge after it’s been drained and jumped. If you stop your car and then try to start it right away after a jump start, it is likely that it might not have enough charge built up yet.
Keep it Clean
Routinely checking your car battery for dirt and corrosion can prolong its life and improve its performance. If you see any corrosion on the poles, using a simple terminal cleaning tool can assist with keeping the contact edges clean. Make sure to use proper care, wear gloves and consult the manual for more information. If you’re unsure of the car battery status, be sure to bring your car in to have a professional technician look at it and diagnose the issue properly.
Don’t Buy Cheap
You don’t need to buy a super high-performance, race-car-worthy battery, but you shouldn’t skimp out on your car battery purchase either. Cheaper batteries tend to be cheap for a reason—they are low quality, may have a shorter life, less power and may leak or corrode. Cheap, no-name products may also not have good warranty coverage. Be sure to stick to trusted brand names, and avoid the headaches.
Learn About Battery Terminals
Not all batteries for cars have the same labeling when it comes to the positive and negative pole terminals. The majority of batteries use red/yellow for positive, and black for negative. Whenever you get a new or replacement battery for your vehicle, you may want to have a look and familiarize yourself with the battery’s pole. This can be helpful if you ever need to jump start your car (or someone else’s).
Avoid Draining the Battery
As mentioned above, the battery charges when the engine is running. Conversely, it won’t charge when the engine is off, so sitting in a parked car with the engine off, headlights on, while charging multiple devices, is a perfect recipe for draining your batteries. You could be out of power within minutes depending on the life and quality of your car battery.
Recognize the Signs of an Old Battery
Here are a few conditions that may be an indication that your battery’s life has run its course and needs replacing:
- Check engine light lights up – this can happen when the battery power is weak
- Slow cranking engine – engine takes longer to start and sounds slow or sluggish
- Low battery fluid levels
- Swollen battery case – could be sign of excessive heating, which may be draining the battery life
- “Rotten egg” smell – often caused by leaking, which in turn can lead to corrosion on the poles
- Age – car batteries usually need to be replaced within 3-5 years. This can vary depending on the battery type, driving habits and other factors. Frequent short trips can also drain battery life.
If you notice one or all of these signs mentioned, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Autoworks with the link below to have your vehicle inspected by one of our technicians!