In today’s Express Car Care auto care blog, we are focusing on battery maintenance. Eventually your car battery will fail and you will need to replace it. In fact, 70% of batteries don’t even make it four years. There are some things drivers can do, however, to make their battery last a little bit longer.
It’s all about the flow of electrical power. When you start your vehicle, the battery uses power to get your engine cranking. As your engine runs, your alternator generates electricity to run all your electrical systems: lights, several computers, anti-lock brake system, traction control, power windows, electronic fuel injectors, stability control, air conditioning, – the list goes on. Any leftover electricity goes to recharge your vehicle’s battery.
Now, if you were on a long road trip, no sweat – you’d have plenty of time to fully recharge your battery. But not if you’re making stops around town. Every time you start your engine, your battery takes that big hit again. Multiple starts – multiple hits. By the time you get home, you have less than a full charge.
When the battery is continuously in a discharged state, it loses its ability to fully recharge. This starts a downward spiral in your battery life. Now when your battery is on its way to getting this bad, your alternator is working overtime trying to keep it charged. This causes your alternator to wear out prematurely. A lot of experience technicians suggest replacing your battery after five years, even though it hasn’t yet failed, just as a maintenance item to extend the life of your alternator.
There is something simple you can do to help your battery last longer – by hooking up a battery charger once a month in the summer and every three months in the winter. This will ensure your car battery routinely has a full charge. You can do this less often in the winter because the electro-chemical process slows down when it’s colder and less damage is done when your battery is low. Computerized battery chargers are real easy to use because they monitor and control the charging rate to keep the battery from overheating while it’s charging.
We recommend that you ask your service adviser to test your battery, so you know how much life is left. If it’s good but needs a battery maintenance service, he’ll have it cleaned up and make sure the connections and cables are good. If it looks like you ought to replace it, he’ll help you with a battery that’s right for your vehicle and your driving needs. Give us a call.