Maintaining Your Car’s Battery

September 11th, 2015 by


Of all the critical components powering your car, the battery is arguably the most important. Without it, you’re not going anywhere. Fortunately, you can extend the life of your car’s battery by practicing some manufacturer-recommended maintenance. If all else fails, there is an impressive assortment of car batteries Albany NY in stock and ready to sell.

Read on for some basic tips and advice on how to keep your car running by ensuring your battery is in good working condition. But first, it helps to understand how your car battery actually works, so that you know what to do at the first sign of trouble.

How Do Car Batteries Work?

chevy malibu batter

Basically, the car battery works by creating the electric jolt required to fire up the electrical workings of your car. As you might have experienced before, if this jolt fails to fire, your car won’t start. So, it’s crucial that you maintain your car’s battery and know how to extend it’s life as long as possible, or replace it when necessary.

The battery takes the chemical energy within itself and turns it into electrical energy, while simultaneously steadying the electrical voltage – think of this as the energy supply – that runs your engine. Such a simple process and tiny component are often easily taken for granted. Fortunately, there are some tell-tale warning signs that should alert you to trouble before it becomes serious, or leaves you stalled out on the side of the road.

Watch For These Car Battery Warning Signs…

battery corroded

There are about a half a dozen clues that should tip you off to battery issues in your vehicle. The good news is, they are all pretty obvious. Honestly, you don’t have to be a gearhead to get the message.

Slow To Start…

Obviously, you’ll notice this right away, particularly if you’re in a hurry or running late to work. Those are, of course, the only times your battery will act up – never when you have all the time in the world.

So, if your battery is slow to start, or you notice that your engine starts, but sounds as though it struggles to do so, your battery is likely to blame. This symptom is usually equated with the noise you hear in horror movies when the soon-to-be victim is desperate to make an escape.

The Check Engine Light is a-Glowin’

Maybe with fall on its way, I’m already in the spirit of Halloween, what with all this talk about horror movies. In keeping with that theme, if you notice that your Check Engine light is illuminated like a jack-o-lantern, trouble’s afoot. Now, it’s certainly true that the Check Engine light could be indicative of some other issue, like maybe your coolant is running low.

However, in this instance, your car battery is a usual suspect. So, don’t wait. Contact the service department at your trusted car dealership and schedule an appointment to have your battery inspected right away. The mechanic will run a diagnostic test to determine the state of your battery and advise you on whether or not it needs to be replaced.

Battery Fluid Below Base Level

In most cases, your car battery is contained in a casing which has a translucent area, allowing you to visually inspect how high (or low, as the case may be) your car battery’s fluid level lies. When you look, check to see if the fluid level has fallen below the lead plates, which are the energy conductors inside the battery. If so, you’ll need to test the battery and the battery’s charging system. The cause of fluid levels decreasing is generally attributed to overheating, particularly during warm months or in geographic areas known for their hot climates.

Blame the Bloat!

In this instance, it’s your battery’s case that will show signs of bloating. If you check your car battery and notice that it looks like a boa constrictor after it’s eaten a rodent of some kind, it’s most likely the result of high heat levels. The swelling will have taxed your battery, lessening its life overall. As with the Check Engine Light or low fluid level, schedule a time to have your car battery tested, diagnosed, and dealt with accordingly.

What’s That Smell?

Perhaps one of my least favorite games to play, “What’s That Smell?” is never a good question to ask, and certainly not when it comes to your vehicle. That said, this might be one of the most instantly recognizable hints that something is, in fact, “rotten in Denmark” or in your Datsun.

In the event that you’re met with the smell of rotten eggs, you’ve come nose to nose with a leaking battery. Gross. Not only does it smell, the leak can actually corrode the little posts at the top of the battery where the + and – indicators are located. Depending on the size of the leak, your car may not start until the residue has been properly cleaned off the battery.

The Old Geezer…

Not even batteries are immune to the aging process, and in fact, they have a relatively short shelf life. Any battery beyond three years of age is counted among the old geezers.

Granted, this doesn’t mean that after you car battery reaches the three-year mark it is immediately going to croak. Your car battery can last a good bit longer – up to five years, even. But, once your car battery does turn three years old, you should start having it checked every year thereafter. Certain conditions like your own personal driving habits, climate, and routine trips over short periods (generally measured as under twenty minutes), can decrease your car battery’s life significantly.

Not sure how old your car battery is?

Well, consider yourself a bad car parent first, and then check the cover of your car battery’s case and see if you can locate a code consisting of either four or five digits.What you should see first is a letter, followed by a number. The letters represent the months of the year, with A representing January, B representing February, C stands for March, etc. Basically, if you know your alphabet and the months of the year (both in order), you’ll be fine.

Now, the number following the letter signifies the year. So, 8 would be 2008, 2 represents 2012, 4 would signify 2014, and on and on. Taken together, the letter and number reveal when the battery left the distributor. Do the math from there and you’ll know the age of your car’s battery.

An example: you check the battery and see F3. That means, your battery was shipped out on June 2013. Given that’s it’s only 2015, you’re in the clear. But be mindful of the fact that the new year is a few short months away and by next summer, you’ll want to check the condition of your car’s battery, especially if you happen to live in a hot or humid climate.

Maintenance Made Easy

car battery

When it comes to maintaining your car’s battery, simply pay attention. Watch for the warning signs above and keep an eye on the calendar. Above all, be proactive. At the first sign that something is amiss, contact your service department and schedule an appointment right away.

More than the possibility of being stranded on the side of the road, a faulty battery can negatively impact the other components in your car. By taking proper care of your car’s battery, you’re taking proper care of your car.