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How to Make The Life of Your Car Battery Last Longer

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By Kiersten Hickman, The Family Handyman


How Long Do Car Batteries Last?

What is the Life of a Car Battery? Typically car batteries will last you four to six years. However, some factors could get in the way of the car battery life time frame such as weather conditions, vehicle type, or even how you drive your car.

A car battery change will have to happen eventually, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat the car battery with proper care. If you want to double your car battery life, these simple steps will help you in doing so.


1. Drive longer distances frequently

According to the Motor Trade Association, frequent short trips could actually contribute to a shorter lifespan for car batteries. Car batteries recharge at longer distances and will receive a full charge after eight hours of use. If a battery isn’t receiving a full charge, strong crystalline deposits can form on the negative plates and can actually prevent the battery from receiving a proper charge. Now that doesn’t mean you need to drive the car eight hours on the daily, but it does mean you should be careful with the amount you are using the electric auxiliary controls within the car. The car’s lights, heater fan, and radio all rely on the battery.


2. Keep Battery in Neutral Temperatures

Batteries typically can withstand most types of temperatures, but extreme hot (and extreme cold) can cause problems. Hot temperatures can cause battery fluid to evaporate, which can actually cause problems of overcharging. This actually decreases the lifespan of your battery.

Colder temperatures will actually cause self-discharge, which will ultimately lead to a dead battery. The battery’s electrolytes can even freeze and cause issues internally and externally on the battery’s case. If your car is going to be idle during winter months, it would be safe to find a space with a neutral temperature for the car.


3. Invest in a Battery Maintainer

Are you locking up a car, or maybe even a boat, for the colder months? Idle batteries can actually lose their charge, so you’ll want to keep the battery alive during those winter months. Batteries should be charged every six weeks in order to be healthy. However, this does not mean that the battery should be sitting on a charger because that could actually shorten its life. Instead, a battery maintainer will help to monitor the battery voltage and automatically adjust the charge to avoid under and overcharging it.


4. Clean Your Car Battery

It’s important to look for corrosion on your battery. Corrosion is when a white powder is around the nodes or clamps of the battery. You can clean the clamps with baking soda, water, and a nonmetallic brush. It’s especially important to be doing this when your battery isn’t corroded. Corrosion means it’s probably time for a new battery, but if you are keeping it clean, it could increase longevity.


5. Test Your Car Battery

Test the electrolyte in each cell. Squeeze the ball and draw the solution into the tester. Carefully hold the tester level and write down the reading. Squirt the solution back into the same cell. The testers are calibrated assuming a battery is at 80 degrees F. Add .04 to each reading for every 10 degrees above 80 and subtract .04 for every 10 degrees below. If you get a cell reading that differs from the others by .05 or more, replace the battery. A fully charged battery should have a reading of 1.265 or higher. If all the readings show fair or low (1.200 is low) but are consistent, recharge the battery.

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