Car Battery Maintenance Tips

As cars get ever more advanced, the demands on their batteries are increasing. That’s why it’s a good idea to be aware of some basic car battery maintenance tips that can help to increase your battery’s lifespan and maximise its performance.

At your car’s regular service, the battery should be checked by the mechanic. But if you have any concerns about your battery, at Halfords we offer a Free Battery Health Check where we’ll check the condition of your battery and let you know if a charge or replacement is needed.

How to maintain your car battery

There are several things you can do on a regular basis to keep your car battery in good condition, whether you’re driving your car every day or not driving for long periods of time:

  • Do a visual battery check
  • Clean your car battery
  • Check your car battery’s acid level
  • Check your car battery’s water level
  • Consider long-term battery storage
  • Get the right battery charger

Do a visual car battery check

This is something you can quickly do every time you open your bonnet.

If you use your vehicle regularly, a few simple checks will suffice. Without removing the battery from your car, have a look round and check that it isn’t damaged and that it’s looking clean. If it has an open vent or pipe, make sure this is free from blockages. Also, make sure the terminals and hold down clamp are tight.

If your vehicle isn’t used a lot, or only for short journeys, you’ll want to carry out more frequent checks on the battery. This is because batteries naturally discharge and your vehicle still uses the battery even when the ignition is off, for example to power the alarm. If your battery level gets too low, you’ll need to charge it before it becomes impossible to do so.

Clean your car battery

Overtime, dirt and debris can collect on your battery and corrode metal elements such as the battery terminals. Therefore, it’s important to clean your car battery every few months to avoid long-term damage.

You can either create your own cleaning solution by using baking soda and water or use our Electrical Contact Cleaner with a wire brush to remove any crust and corrosion left on the battery. Remember to wipe off any cleaning fluid residue on the battery so it doesn’t go through the battery ports and cause any damage.

Check your car battery’s acid level

A car battery that is constantly undercharged or dwells at a charge below 80%, often called acid stratification, can pose a huge risk to your battery health as the electrolytes will concentrate at the bottom and leave the upper half starved.

This will affect the acid level of your battery, so make sure to check your battery’s acid levels every six months and ensure all the cells are filled equally, otherwise a lot of damage may be caused to the battery.

Check your car battery’s water level

Another simple tip that can help you maintain your battery for longer is to check the battery’s water levels. If the battery plates are fully covered, it means that your water level is where it should be.

However, when the battery plates are exposed, it means that the battery fluid level is low. You should immediately fill the battery with distilled water until the plates are fully covered again. It’s important to use distilled water rather than tap water, as the latter contains dissolved minerals that can affect battery performance.

It is recommended to check the battery fluid level every time your car needs an oil change, or after every six months.

Consider long-term battery storage

If you know that your car isn’t going to be used for an extended period (in excess of a month) then you should consider removing the battery from the vehicle to prevent excessive draining.

When the battery is removed you should fully charge it every three months. This will ensure optimum performance when you do come to use it again. Feel free to check out our guide on how long car batteries normally last.

Get the right battery charger

To keep your battery charged you’ll need a battery charger. Just make sure that you find one that’s compatible with your vehicle’s battery.

We’d recommend a smart charger; these devices can repair and protect your battery while it charges, to keep it healthy for longer. Using an advanced, multi-step system, smart chargers re-fill your battery in stages to stop any excess current. Not only does this prevent damage, but it also makes for more efficient charging. You can find out more about smart chargers here.

Car battery chargers

You can check out our full range of batteries online and find out more about our car battery fitting service, which is available at your local Halfords store.

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