DIY Car Battery Maintenance Tips

car battery maintenance

Car Batteries are an important part of the car

Nowadays, vehicles have more electrical demands than before. New car batteries meet those demands. The battery of the car supplies the electrical current for the starter motor to crank up the engine. It provides electrical power to other accessories when the car engine is off. When the vehicle is running and the electrical load exceeds the charging system capacity, the car battery provides the extra current that the car needs. Car battery maintenance stabilizes the voltage for the entire electrical system of the vehicle.

Many maintenance procedures for the battery can be done by yourself, but you should have a professional make sure it’s in good condition. Here are some simple maintenance tips for your car’s battery.

The Safety of your Battery

Car batteries may seem uncomplicated but can be hazardous if you’re not careful. When batteries start to corrode, the corrosion that forms on the terminal will contain sulfuric acid. This causes chemical burns to anything that it comes in contact with. Avoid injuries by knowing how to read the battery’s warning signs. Follow these precautions:

  • Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and eye protection.
  • Don’t tip or squeeze the battery, as that could cause the acid to spill out. If there is a spill, flush the area with water immediately.
  • Be careful to not drop the battery. Batteries are heavy and they can injure a person. If dropped, it can crack and create an acid spill.
  • Don’t smoke whenever your battery is being serviced. Avoid exposing the battery to an open flame or a spark. This may cause an explosion.
  • When dealing with your car’s battery, remove all jewelry worn. Metal objects, such as rings and watches, can create a short between the positive battery terminal and ground. This can cause explosive sparks and serious burns. Also, don’t place metal tools on top of or near the battery.
  • Remember to wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly after you’ve handled your car battery.

Inspecting and Servicing your Battery

Whether your car battery has removable vent-caps or is sealed, regular service and inspection should be done so that it works effectively and safely. Some of the sealed “maintenance-free” batteries have their own vent caps that you can remove for servicing.

Inspection and Cleaning the Case

The simplest maintenance you can do for your car battery is to keep it clean. The oil residue and the dirt on its case will cause the battery to drain. So keep the case clean by wiping it with towels moistened with detergent. Clean and dry the case and inspect it for bulging and/or cracks. This will indicate if your battery needs more testing or replacement.

The Electrolyte Level must be checked

In your battery, there is a mixture of sulfuric acid and water called the electrolyte solution. At every oil change, check the electrolyte solution if the car battery has removable vent caps. The electrolyte level in each of the cells should be above the top of the battery plates. It should also be even with the bottom of the “well” that is beneath the vent cap. If the electrolyte level is low, distilled water can be added as needed. Just don’t overfill the cells. Don’t use water from the tap because it contains some mineral deposits that shorten the lifespan of the car battery.

Have the terminals inspected and cleaned

Inspect the terminals, the battery posts, and the hold-down hardware for any corrosion buildup or cracked connections. If there is a corrosion buildup, clean it using a 1:1 solution of water and baking soda. Use a small and stiff brush to apply it. When the corrosion has been removed, rinse it thoroughly with clean water. When you drain the contaminated water, drain it into a plastic pan or any suitable container and dispose of it properly.

Remove or Install the Battery properly

If the hold-down hardware or the terminal of the battery is already corroded, it may be time to remove the battery to clean the components properly. Loosen the battery clamps and remove the cable from the battery. If the clamps are frozen in place, you can use a puller to remove them. Don’t pry the cable clamps off the terminal post because this can damage the case and connections inside. Remove the cable from the negative terminal first and then the positive next. When you reinstall the cables, do the opposite – connect the positive cable first and then the negative next. Here are some basic ways to differentiate the positive and negative cable terminals.

  • Color codes: black is for negative and red is for positive
  • Size: the positive cable is usually bigger than negative
  • Symbols: – is negative and + is positive

Reasons Why Batteries Fail

When heat increases under the hood, the rate of chemical degradation in the battery also increases. Some vehicles put a heat shield over the battery to combat this heat. Some vehicles already come with a heat shield so make sure that it’s installed properly, especially after servicing or replacement. Vibrations can also break the battery’s internal parts. To minimize the effect of vibrations, make sure the car battery fits properly in the vehicle. If the charging system malfunctions, this will shorten the battery life. Have the charging system checked at least once a year.

Signs that the Battery is Weak

Here are some things you should look out for:

  • The engine is started slowly by the starter motor
  • The headlights and lamps are dim
  • The warning light for “Battery/Charging” is illuminated

Replacing the Battery

Every vehicle will eventually need a new battery and not all cars have the same battery. They differ in terminal location, cranking power, and physical size. These things are important to look into as these ensure the function and proper fit of your battery. If you choose the wrong battery, it will affect your car’s entire electrical system.

Your car’s battery should be taken care of because its a vital part of your vehicle’s overall health. If you need  car battery service, check out The Auto Warehouse today!

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