Extreme temperatures are tough on batteries. Heat causes the water/acid mixture in the battery to evaporate quickly and winter is tough on batteries, for a few reasons:
- The use of lights, heater, wipers, heated seats etc. demands more current from a battery.
- The battery also cannot produce its normal amount of energy because of the cold as the chemical reactions that generate electricity are slower at lower temperatures.
- Depending on the type of oil in use, the oil can become something akin to molasses and requiring more energy to turn the engine over.
Most batteries these days are considered maintenance free and on average will last you on average 3 – 5 years depending on your driving habits. They also come with a warranty so if they completely discharge before they are supposed to. You can get them replaced either for free or pro-rated depending on the brand.
So how do you know if your battery just needs to be recharged or replaced? If you have accidently left the car lights on and the battery has died a simple recharge either by jump starting and taking it for a drive and letting the alternator do its job or using a specific car battery recharger may be all you need. However, signs that you need to replace your battery include:
- Battery no longer holds a charge regardless of how long you charge the battery for.
- Damage to the battery casing
- Excessive wear and tear
- The warranty period has ended
- You have taken it to a service professional or auto parts store and had your battery tested and the voltmeter has read less than 12 volts. This simple test can determine whether it is the battery that is at fault or if there are problems with the alternator, starter or wiring.
- Excessive corrosion around the terminals an indicator the battery is excessive off gassing.
Disposal of the old battery is fairly easy as a battery’s toxic lead and acid can easily be recycled, and most battery retailers/ auto repair shops will dispose of the old one for you.
The Battery Council International also recommends occasionally checking the terminal connections to be sure the connections are tight and free of corrosion. If the terminals are corroded, they can be cleaned with a brush (such as a discarded toothbrush) and a light paste of household baking soda and water. Keeping the terminals bright and tight will help ensure that the battery performs through its entire service life.
Finally, if parking a car for long periods of time, it’s best to disconnect the battery to prevent discharging. Use a crescent or open-ended wrench to loosen the strap from the negative terminal on the battery, and then remove the connector. Make sure the connector is tucked away from the terminal, where it cannot come into contact with the post.
Want to know more about how to care for your car properly? Learn more about your car by reading our posts!