Caring for your car battery is vital and should not be neglected. Not only will it extend the life of your battery, saving costs, but it would also prevent any unexpected interruptions when on the move. Imagine a long day of work, all you want to do is go home and have a nice feed, but unfortunately for you, the car does not start due to the failure of the car battery.
An automotive battery is rechargeable. Its purpose is to supply electricity to the automobile, powering all the electronics, lights, and most importantly the ignition and start of the vehicle. Without this, your automobile would be stuck in a rut. Once the engine is running and the vehicle is moving it can generate power to the alternator which recharges the battery.
Maintaining the car battery can minimize any inconveniences, avoiding any additional hassles such as towing or trips to the mechanic.
Here is 6 easy steps and tips to maintain a healthy car battery any time of the year.
Remember, never smoke around the battery, eye protection and rubber gloves is also advised. First, clean the top of the battery free from any dirt and grime. Next, you would need to clean the terminal and connector. There may be some corrosion on these parts. Using a tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water and a non-metallic brush, you can lightly scrub it clean.
This allows you to easily take the cables off of the car battery. Corrosion on the terminals may also prevent the car from starting due to resistance.
REMOVING THE BATTERY
Battery types and location all differ. To disconnect the battery, by first taking the battery hold-on clamp off with the required wrench. Remove the negative terminal first. This would be the cable that has a minus sign near the connector. Loosen the cable bolts and twist it off. Do not take it off forcefully as this may damage the parts.
Do not let the negative touch the positive. Proceed to take the other cable off, this is the positive and would have a plus sign near the connector.
BATTERY AND PARTS
Carefully lift up the car battery from the mount and check the overall battery for any defects like cracks or distortions. These defects are usually caused by heat or overcharging. If there is a crack on the case you would be required to replace the battery.
Careful not to drop the battery. Clean the battery tray and check to see if there may be any corrosion on the tray. If the tray does not look promising and is cracked in anyway, consider getting a new support. This is important due to the battery being heavy and facing all sorts of vibrations and distortions.
Also, inspect the connectors, terminals, screws and cables for any defects, these should all be tight and clean. Have a look at this every 6-8 months.
If you also have a battery insulator, usually for those extreme regions, make sure that it is clean and dry.
If the battery looks good to go, check the cells of the battery. If you have a non-maintenance-free-wet-cell refillable car battery, pry off the cover or unscrew the heads that are on top of the battery. Check the mixture, the water and acidic mixture should be about half an inch deep, or to the bottom of the fill hole. If it needs water, use clean demineralized/distilled water to fill up. Do not use tap water as the minerals may affect the battery’s capacity, and never fill with acid.
If you have to refill it, make sure you leave the battery for a couple hours, letting the mixture settle. But note, removing your battery for long periods of time or sometimes instantaneous, may reset your car’s radio settings, date and time.
It is ideal to check a non-maintenance-free-wet-cell car battery every 3-4 months. For the maintenance-free type, the battery cells is ideal to get it checked by a professional.
TESTING THE BATTERY
If your car battery does not have an in-built hydrometer, you can purchase this inexpensive piece of equipment at most auto parts store, or alternatively use a voltmeter.
The hydrometer is measured by Specific Gravity (SG). When the battery is not in use ‘off-load’, squeeze the ball on the hydrometer to suck the mixture into the scale. Hold the test level and record the reading, then squirt it back down. Having a SG reading of 1.275 to 1.290 relatively means a full charge. Anything below 1.240 requires charging.
Be Careful not to spill any of this as it can be harmful to most surfaces, like your paint and clothes. Clean straight away with lots of water if you do.
The voltmeter is measured in Voltage (V). You can test the battery while ‘onload’, such as when a function of the vehicle’s’ electronics is running, .e.g. Headlight. The battery in a 12V system should show 11.5V DC with the headlights on. Any lower requires charging. And if the stabilised open circuit voltage is below 12.55V this may require a recharge.
However, a battery under 12.5 volts should never be tested until it is full charged. A battery tester will often show false readings if the battery is not full, even though the battery is perfectly fine.
If you are unsure you can always take it to a registered mechanic and they can provide professional assistance and advice.
TIEING IT ALL BACK
Make sure the battery is in position, connect the hold-down clamp and connect the positive terminal first then the negative terminal. Tighten both cables.
You can also smear a tiny bit of petroleum jelly/high temperature grease on the terminals to slow corrosion.