A lot of things like age, improper maintenance and cold weather can have a negative impact on your cars battery life and abscond in an unpleasant situation. You can prevent such a dreadful experience by keeping in mind these simple tips and tricks. Getting into the history of the term battery, Benjamin Franklin was the first person to use the term battery for his experiments in 1749. He used it to describe a set of capacitors used for his experiments with electricity. But the lead-acid battery used in most of the cars today was invented by French Physicist Gaston Plante back in 1859.
How does the battery work?
Knowing how it works is very important; this lead-acid battery was the first ever battery design that can be recharged by passing a reverse current through it. The voltage regulator and an alternator gives it a longer life. This alternator is driven by the engine’s crankshaft to produce AC power through electromagnetism. Through this your vehicle generates electric currents and gives a long life to your battery i.e. up to six years.
Apart from supporting the engine, it also supplies power to the lighting system, spark plugs, infotainment system etc. The average power supply of any car battery is 12.6 volts of DC power. It is made up of six smaller batteries connected in series known as battery cells. These lead-acid batteries came in the forefront in 1920’s with the usage of electric starters in passenger vehicles. Initially the power supply was 6V units which were increased to 12V by 1950’s. This was done because of higher compression ratios of larger displacement engines.
Steps to prevent your battery going flat:
- After looking into the essentials let’s move on to the common reasons for batteries going flat. Old age is the prime factor followed by excessive heat and corrosion. When your battery is drained the most common symptoms to know are, car cranking slowly, dim headlights or the engine does not turn over. The biggest problem with a drained battery is that it never wholly regains its charge.
- Two steps that can help you prevent your battery from getting completely drained. Carry a portable jump starter with you all the time or borrow it from somebody whenever required. Juno Power manufactures the most portable jump starter. Cost something around $99.99 and weighs just 7 ounces (0.2kg). The Juno jump starter not only helps you to jump start your car but it also helps in charging your phone by connecting through a USB. Steps to follow while using a jump starter- first, attach the red cable’s alligator clip to the + (positive) battery terminal. Second, attach the black cable to the – (negative) terminal. If the car starts, then let it run for five minutes to ensure that the battery is charged. Then you must remove the cables in reverse order and you are finished.
- Proper Maintenance- Most essential for a long battery life is proper maintenance. One must check the battery terminals once every month. If corrosive buildup is on the menu then you must scrub it using baking soda. A mixture of three tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of warm water is sufficient to do away with it. Use a brush to clean it. When the brushing is done clean the terminals with a towel and let them dry. Petroleum jelly when applied on terminals helps prevent corrosive build ups.
- Water level- Make sure that the water level is always topped up, it should be checked every month especially if your battery is two or three years old. In the near past we have noticed an increased reliance on maintenance free batteries. But you should not be mistaken. Even these batteries require regular cleaning and maintenance. However these cannot be opened to topped up with distilled water. These are not leak proof because an outlet is provided for gas to vent when charging. BMW 5 series started using these first in 2007. Motorcycles adopted these in 1980’s to reduce the chances of acid spilling.
- Avoid short trips- Another point to remember is that one must avoid short trips. The less often you start your car, the less work battery has to do. And this is not good for your batteries life. So you must convert short trips into a long one. Cold weather is also fatal for your battery. Before starting your car in winters you must check that all the electrical in the car is turned off.
- Prevent battery draining- Yet another problem is battery draining when the car is turned off. It happens so because a small electrical load from the car’s computer or accessories draws current from the battery. Cables causing short circuits represent the most common scenario. What if you just installed a new battery and it stopped working? The reason is the alternator or the alarm system. You must contact your mechanic in such a case.
Finally we at VehiclePassion advise you not to disconnect the battery as it could erase the memory in multiple control units. Also, make it a habit to get your battery checked whenever you go for an oil change.