8 Things You Should Know About Car Batteries
What do you know about car batteries? You can read about some of the top options, their cost, and more in this detailed breakdown.
Gaston Plante invented the first lead-acid battery in the 1850s. However, it took many more decades before they began appearing in vehicles. These days, the auto industry has moved beyond these batteries, and now sealed core and lithium-ion batteries are standard.
Learn more about car batteries and how these small boxes power your vehicles.
1. You Should Regularly Check Your Battery
You should already have a seasonal maintenance checklist for your vehicle. This ensures it stays in good running condition and remains reliable for years to come. In addition to the rest of your car, you should add checking your battery to your spring maintenance checklist.
To check your car battery, you will need a multimeter. First, connect the multimeter to your battery's positive and negative terminals. It should read a voltage of around 12.6 if the battery is good. Then, start your car and check again; it should read around ten volts.
2. The Weather Can Affect Its Performance
There is liquid inside your car battery box, which is affected by the weather. When the weather gets hot, the liquid can evaporate. This reduces the amount of liquid in the battery, which reduces its effectiveness.
Thankfully, temperatures would have to reach extremely cold depths for the liquid to freeze. However, even without freezing, batteries lose their effectiveness and power. A battery that's fully charged will not operate at 100 percent when in freezing temperatures.
You can combat this by using a battery warmer during the winter. You should also avoid short trips that aren't long enough to warm up the battery and keep the liquid moving.
3. Your Battery Has a Limited Life
There is a limit to the battery life of car batteries, and it gets shorter depending on your driving habits. You will need to replace a car battery every three to five years. You typically won't have to worry about a good quality battery for the first three years.
After that, you should regularly check it to ensure it won't suddenly die on you. You can also watch for signs that your car battery is losing power. You could have trouble starting your car or see a check engine light on your dash.
Living in extremely hot or cold climates or only taking less than 20-minute drives will shorten your battery's useful life.
4. A Swollen Battery Is a Bad Sign
If your battery is bulging or looks swollen, this is a very bad and dangerous sign. Typically, it is a sign of overheating or overcharging. Do not drive your vehicle if your battery is swollen.
The acid in the battery is under pressure, and it can explode under this additional pressure. This can create a massive amount of damage to the engine, engine bay, vehicle's frame, and even you.
Have a professional mechanic remove and dispose of the battery for you. Then have the alternator checked, as it can be the culprit to your battery overcharging.
5. Don't Just Throw It Away
Do not throw a dead battery into your household trash, and call it a day. Car batteries are full of dangerous toxic chemicals. If you have a mechanic replace your battery, they will typically take care of the old battery disposal for you.
When replacing your old battery on your own, you will need to arrange for battery disposal. Many municipalities offer car battery recycling. Another option is to find a metal recycling plant, and they might give you a few bucks for it.
Finally, check with nearby auto parts stores. Many have programs that make it easy to switch out your old battery for a new one.
6. Follow Connection Procedures
How you connect and disconnect a battery is crucial to maintaining your safety and protecting your vehicle. This applies during a car battery replacement, hooking up a multimeter, attaching a tender, or giving another vehicle a jump start.
Always connect and disconnect the negative cable first. This connection is a cable that connects to a ground point away from the battery. Typically this is a bolt somewhere on the engine or in the vehicle.
This will prevent sparks or short circuits while connecting or disconnecting the vehicle.
7. Aftermarket Accessories Drain It
Just because you turn your car off does not mean your car battery is no longer supplying power. Vehicle manufacturers take this into account when building vehicles. This is why your infotainment system doesn't drain the battery, but it always picks up where it left off when you turn the car on.
However, this isn't the case when installing aftermarket accessories. This includes things like an aftermarket stereo system, lighting, or alarm system. These are all accessories that require power, and they get it from the car battery.
If they are pulling power when the vehicle is off, this can prematurely drain the battery.
8. Consider Using a Tender or Maintainer
If you don't plan to drive your car for a long time, consider hooking it up to a battery tender or maintainer. If not, you risk the battery eventually going dead. A tender will supply power to the battery and cycle on and off to ensure the car battery maintains a full charge.
You will need access to the battery to hook one up. You will attach the tender to the positive and negative posts on the battery. Then plug the tender into an electrical outlet in the wall.
Take Care of Your Car Batteries
As you can see, a lot more goes into the care and maintenance of car batteries than you would expect. You need to check it regularly, keep it clean, and replace it responsibly. These facts will help you save money by ensuring your car battery runs in tip-top condition.
Schedule an appointment or stop by any of our three convenient locations in Berlin, Hooksett or Manchester for your FREE vehicle battery check and if necessary, we can replace it for you.