Your car battery should last about three to five years, but many people find that they need to change their car battery every 1 or 2 years.
Why is that? And what can you do to extend the life of your car battery? Well That’s what we’ll be discussing in this article.
We’re going to show you why car batteries die prematurely and what you can do to prevent it. We will also show you 8 tips and tricks to maximize the life of your car’s 12-volt battery.
The tips you will learn in this article are easy to do … and anyone will be able to do them (even if you don’t know anything about cars or car batteries).
Lets get started!
To start out, you must realize that the life of every car battery has a limit (but most people kill their battery long before its lifespan is over). Every car battery has a limit to its life span.
Even if you regularly maintain car battery, it will still die one day. This fixed lifespan is called the “calendar lifespan” and is entirely independent of how often the battery has been charged or discharged.
Once a battery has reached the end of its “calendar life,” it becomes unusable. But most car batteries never reach their full “calendar life”.
Instead, they die early due to poor maintenance and care. That is something you can do something about.
Here is a little background on lead-acid batteries before we get to our eight battery tips and tricks.
Lead-acid batteries are the oldest, most reliable and widely used type of rechargeable batteries in the world.
Lead-acid batteries have a three-step life cycle – formatting, peak and decline.
The formatting cycle is when the battery is new and must be used with care. The peak is the ideal performance phase, which we want to maintain as long as possible.
The decline is a slow process, but it gradually ends with the end of the battery. Batteries that are in decline can be used for quite some time, but must be monitored.
At this phase, you can either recondition the battery or observe it closely and try to replace it before a problem occurs (for example, if you can’t start your car to work).
Eight tips to extend the life of your car’s lead-acid battery
Tip 1: Perform a monthly inspection of the battery terminals to ensure that they are clean and free of corrosion.
One of the first signs your car battery is failing is formation of corrosion around the terminals. The corrosion destroys the connection between the battery and the vehicle, and many batteries are replaced due to too much corrosion deposits.
This can be fixed by applying a small amount of cola or a do-it-yourself corrosion protection paste consisting of one part water to three parts baking powder, over the areas that are exhibiting corrosion.
The acid in both the cola and the alkaline properties in the do-it-yourself anticorrosion paste will eat away the corrosion.
After the corrosion has disappeared, use a clean, damp cloth or sponge to remove whats left of the residue and moisture.
Be sure to let it dry, then apply Vaseline on the clamps to prevent future corrosion.
*Note: Read our safety tips at the end of this article before connecting or disconnecting your battery.
Tip 2: Do not use any of the car’s accessories (radio, lights or electronics) before you turn on the ignition and drive the car.
When the car is on, the car’s alternator generates electricity and charges the car battery after the battery has a voltage drop.
However, if the car is not turned on and you are using the car electronics, the system will use the car battery to power only to operate these electronics. This can damage your car battery because they are not designed for this type of use.
Instead, car batteries should provide a sudden burst of energy for ignition. They are not designed to power electronics and other devices over a long period of time (that’s what a deep cycle lead-acid battery would be for).
If you use your car battery as a battery that supplies power to the electronics, rather than as a battery that provides only a surge of power for ignition, the battery will be damaged, and its life will be greatly reduced if used repeatedly in this manner.
Therefore, avoid operating car accessories or electronics while the car is switched off.
Tip 3: Make sure that the car battery is safe and has good battery cables.
The battery must be secured at all times. If a battery vibrates around, could short circuit the system. This could ruin your battery and may even cause damage your car.
Bad battery cables can cause the same problem (or if they are improperly connected). You must check to make sure they are securely connected.
Tip 4: Insulate your car battery against extreme temperature fluctuations
Protecting your car battery from major temperature fluctuations helps maximize battery life.
A battery insulation kit is perfect for this purpose.
Newer model cars typically have these kits already installed. But if your car does not have such a kit, you can easily install it yourself.
Just make sure that it fits into the battery compartment of your car. In general, the companies that sell these battery insulation kits have a form on their website where you can enter your car model and year, and it will tell you if your battery fits into their kit – like here (at the top of the page). These battery insulation kits are usually made of plastic or an acid and heat resistant material.
These car battery insulation kits insulate and protect your battery while encouraging adequate ventilation.
Tip 5: Charge your car battery weekly (use battery charger or replace the batteries if necessary).
Your car battery will discharge even when the car is switched off.
This happens because the battery is drained by car accessories (radio, lights, etc.) or the car computer.
However, to prevent this, you can use either a car battery charger or a solar charger.
Car battery chargers (normal or solar chargers) maintain the optimum charge level of your car battery when the car is not in use.
They do this by providing enough power to the car accessories and the car computer so that they do not constantly draw power from the car battery when the car is not running.
these changes will be a big help especially when you go on a trip or do not use your car for a while.
They are also useful if you make many short car trips (e.g. to work and back every day) and never give the battery a chance to fully charge. If you do this repeatedly, your battery life will be dramatically reduced – unless you use a car battery charger or replace the batteries and leave one at home to fully charge it.
It is crucial to remember to make sure you fully charge your car battery at least once a week, as this will significantly extend the life of your battery. If you do this with a charger, replace the batteries… or simply drive long enough in the car to charge the battery.
Tip 6: Check the water level in your car battery
Check your car batteries regularly to see if they need water.
So, check the car battery’s water level indicator regularly and top up with distilled water when water is needed (and this is important, use ONLY distilled water to top it up.
Tip 7: Overcharging the battery is not good
Never overload the battery. Hydrogen gasses are released when the battery overcharged.
This causes two problems:
- it can be explosive.
- the composition of the water in the battery breaks down, shortening its life.
Tip 8: Check the alternator in your car
If you are doing everything we have recommended in this article, but your car batteries are still dying too soon, you should check your car’s alternator (or have a mechanic do it).
If your alternator is poor, this will result in ineffective recharging of the battery and dramatically shorten the battery life.
Read these safety precautions:
Safety precaution #1) Read the vehicles owner’s manual before disconnection your car battery. In most cases (unless otherwise stated in the owner’s manual), disconnect the negative lead first and then the positive lead. When reconnecting the battery, connect the positive lead first and then the negative lead.
If this is done in the wrong order, it may affect the fuses and other electronics in your car. Also make sure the keys are not in the ignition when attempting to work on the battery. Some luxury cars are more sensitive to this procedure than others – such as German luxury cars (Mercedes Benz and BMW cars) – so take extra care.
Safety precaution #2) When charging a battery, do so in a well-ventilated area. When handling a built-in car battery, open the hood of the car for a few minutes to allow ventilation first.
What can you do if your battery is flat?
If your car batteries die or are in the process of shrinking, all hope is not lost! You can still treat the battery and bring it back to life.
In fact, there is a simple method you can learn in the EZ Battery Reconditioning Program that will bring an empty (or dying) 12V lead-acid car battery back to life.
It is simple and quick.
And this simple 12V car battery reconditioning method extends the life of your car battery even longer than the tips we’ve discussed in this article.
If done in the wrong order, it can affect your car’s fuses and other electronics. Also, remove the car keys from the ignition before working on the battery. Some vehicles are more sensitive to this procedure than others – such as German luxury cars (Mercedes Benz and BMW).
So be especially careful.
Plus, you save money because you can reuse your old car battery instead of buying a new, overpriced battery.