Silence. A dead battery. Not only is it a major inconvenience, it’s likely to hit your pocket hard, forking out for a new one, or calling for roadside assistance.
The older the battery the less it performs at capacity. Sound familiar? Components in the battery corrode, constant charge and discharge makes it lose capacity and electrical shorts are just some of the reasons why a battery will die.
Here’s a few ways you can make sure to keep the life of your battery last longer.
Turn off lights
It goes without saying leaving your lights on will flatten a battery. This applies to headlights but also applies to interior lights. Even a boot slightly ajar can cause a light to be on, so make sure to close everything and make sure lights are all switched off.
Keep it charged
It makes sense that keeping your battery running means keeping it charged. Driving it regularly does that. But what if you don’t use your car all that often or only take it for short trips when you do? A battery charger will help. Make sure you have an Australian-approved charger and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid overheating.
Standard batteries do require some maintenance, and that includes checking the fluid levels on a regular basis, at least once a month. Remove the cell caps or the cover and see where the levels are. The water should be above the tops of the battery plates. If they need a top-up make sure you only use distilled or purified water. Tap water may contain minerals that will damage the battery. Don’t overfill either as this could cause the electrolyte to leak out.
If you have a maintenance free battery you can skip the top-up step, however it is still a good idea to make sure battery is free of dust and grime, especially around the connection points and on top of the battery. Check the connections are tight too.
Make sure the battery carrier is holding the battery the right way, and is nice and secure. A loose battery can be damaged due to vibrations as you drive, leading to failure. The vibration and movement of the battery can cause damage to your vehicle too. It can not only damage your car internally it could cause a fire.
You can test the battery yourself with a hydrometer or voltmeter. If not, you can take it to the professionals (battery sellers) and they can inspect and do the testing for you.
Size really does matter
You might think you are saving money by buying a cheaper battery but that might not be the case long term. Fitting a smaller battery means it could also be less powerful, and will lead to earlier failure. Get it right the first time by checking your car manufacturers requirements.
Watch out for warning signs that your battery is on the way out. Is it slower than normal to crank the engine over? A major change in conditions can also affect your battery too, such as extreme weather. Air conditioners, for example, can cause strain, and they can become overheated in hot weather.
Dead or flat?
A battery won’t last forever so you might think you have a dead battery and need to buy a new one, but it could simply be flat. Make sure you test it before you toss it.
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.