7 Tips for Maintaining Your Car Battery before a Long Trip
When it comes to driving, there is nothing worse than being stuck with a flat battery. Your car battery acts as the heart of your vehicle. From starting your car to charging your phone while on the road, batteries provide the energy needed to keep your automobile rolling. As such, it is vital to learn how to maintain your car battery, especially if you are about to go on a long trip. You should also know when to replace the batteries. Although your car batteries have a limited lifespan, there are ways you can extend their life. Here are seven tips for maintaining your car battery before a long trip.
Electrolyte Level. Check whether your battery has enough electrolyte. The right electrolyte level should cover the plates. If the electrolyte level is low, use distilled or demineralized water to refill and then recharge it. Take care not to overfill. Use a battery filler, a long tube with a bulb at the top, to replenish the cells. Also, ensure that the electrolyte is not contaminated because this can reduce the lifespan of your battery.
Test the Charge. Use a hydrometer to test the electrolyte in each cell. Squeeze the ball on the hydrometer and then draw the solution into the tester. Record your reading and squirt the solution back into the same cell. If your battery is fully charged, it should have a recording of 1.265 or higher. If the reading is about 1.200, recharge your battery. You can do this at home by using jumper cables and a fully-charged vehicle or contact your local car repair shop.
Corrosion. Inspect your battery for any corrosion and clean it as recommended. You can apply a mixture of water and baking soda to the terminals and cables. Allow the mixture to bubble, and then scrub the terminal with a toothbrush or wire brush. Use clean water to wash off the paste, and your corrosion will be gone. You can also pour Coca-Cola soda evenly over the battery terminals and cables and use a toothbrush to scrub. You can also purchase a battery cleaning spray, which is specifically designed to clean corrosion. Follow the instructions on the can.
Fasten the Battery. When going on a long trip, the vibration of your car may internally damage your loose battery. A battery that is not securely fastened is also at risk to short circuits. Check your battery to ensure it is tightly and properly positioned. However, do not over-tighten the clamp nuts to the limit of your strength. Tighten them until the resistance begins, then continue only for a half turn.
Engine off. Leaving your lights on when you exit your vehicle can put a heavy toll on your battery. Car batteries remain at their best mode when you keep the charge almost full. Minimizing the power used while your engine is off is an excellent car battery maintenance strategy. Ensure you turn off the lights to avoid draining your battery. If you always forget to turn them off, post a sticker on your car remote or park in a direction where you must walk past the headlights.
Heat Exposure. Most people assume that cold weather kills car batteries. While the batteries have to work harder when starting your engine in cold weather, the primary reason for failure is the damage sustained during hot periods. Heat increases the rate of water evaporation from the cells. When planning for a long trip, ensure you park your vehicle in the shade or keep it in the garage when not in use. You can also look for other ways to help insulate the battery from heat within the engine bay.
Care for the Whole car. Besides the battery, your car is made up of multiple parts that work together. Taking care of your entire vehicle and properly parking can also go a long way in maintaining your battery. Maintain the other parts of your car eases the work that the batteries have to do to power up your vehicle.
If you check your battery regularly, you can know when it gets damaged. A weak or faulty battery can fail you anytime. If your battery has reached its maximum lifespan, a car battery replacement service can help you regain your confidence on the road. A good battery saves you the trouble of looking for tow services and saves you time, energy, and money.