Most drivers tend to think about their vehicle’s battery after it fails.
But since you’re here, you’re not like “most drivers.” Perhaps you already know that a little attention and minor-but-important regular maintenance can help keep your car battery going… because without it, you aren’t going anywhere.
In this post, we’d like to explore seven of the most important things to know about your car battery. The information in this list will keep you from reaching for your jumper cables for a long time.
Remember, always wear eye protection gear and gloves while working on a car battery.
Let’s get started with one of the most often-forgotten things about car batteries…
#1 – The Weather Can Affect Your Car Battery
Since car batteries use a liquid solution to stay charged, the weather can affect how much power is actually retained. In extreme heat, this solution can actually evaporate. You can refill the battery with demineralized water, but if the battery has been exposed to extreme heat long enough for the solution to evaporate, it might actually be damaged—so try not to park your car in the Mojave Desert anytime soon.
#2 – Cold Cranking Amps (CCA’s) Won’t Help You Start Your Car in the Winter
Speaking of car battery operation in extreme weather, it’s a something of a misconception—much to the satisfaction of car battery marketing teams—that batteries with a higher cold cranking amp (CCA) rating will have an easier time starting in cold weather.
This was true in older vehicles, so if you drive one, great. Newer vehicles use computers to regulate the power your battery receives while turning the ignition key, so the CCA rating of a battery doesn’t help or hinder anything.
The solution? A battery heater (sometimes called a battery warmer), which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: it’s more or less a heating blanket for your battery. You wrap your car battery in the heater to insulate it. In extreme climates, you can even plug them into a standard outlet to maintain a normal temperature on and in your battery.
#3 – Corroded Batteries Can Be Cleaned With Baking Soda
Over time, corrosion will prevent your car battery from working. The moisture on the corrosion can even cause a short circuit between the two battery poles, which at best won’t allow your car to start and at worst could even be dangerous.
The bottom line? Get rid of corrosion quickly. Take a one cup of water and mix in a tablespoon of baking soda, grab a strong brush, and use the mixture to scrub away the corrosion.
#4 – A Battery Low on Water Can Smell Like Rotting Eggs
The water in your battery is there to prevent sulfate from building up on the electrodes. If you’ve ever smelled sulfur before, you know it smells terrible—something like rotten eggs. If you ever get a whiff of this while under the hood of your car, it’s almost certainly time to refill the car battery water.
#5 – You Really Shouldn’t Be Refilling Your Battery With Tap Water
Another common battery misconception is that tap water is fine to use while refilling the water in your battery… because most of the time there isn’t a noticeable impact on performance. However, it’s going to reduce the lifespan of your battery, possibly significantly. Tap water contains impurities that will almost certainly damage the cells of the battery.
Instead, use demineralized water or deionized water. Most batteries have removable filler caps with a line indicating how high the water should be.
#6 – Have Your Mechanic Check Your Battery During Regular Maintenance
The next time you take your car in for an oil change or another routine maintenance appointment, ask your mechanic to check the battery’s voltage even if you don’t have a reason to suspect anything is wrong. The vast, vast majority of mechanics won’t charge you any additional fees to do so, and it can help catch problems before they leave you stranded with a car that won’t start.
#7 – Your Car Battery Needs to be Bolted Down
Your car battery is bolted down. But given enough time, it can start to get loose—vibration from driving, hitting bumps and potholes, and so on can jostle it. When even a little loose, this can cause additional vibration on the battery, which can damage the internal components. Make sure your battery isn’t shifting, moving, or otherwise feeling loose, even a little bit.
Looking for the Best Car Battery Care?
… Or the best overall car care, period? Check in with your local BG shop and meet a team of mechanics that genuinely care about providing affordable, high quality maintenance for your vehicle. Our line of battery products can extend your car battery’s lifespan so that it doesn’t let you down.
We hope that this post has been informative! If you have any additional questions or would simply like to learn more about B.G., please feel free to contact us today.