16 Sep Battery Inspection: Fall Car Care Tip
This month’s Fall Car Care Tip is to recommend you schedule a Battery Inspection with your local service station. They will check your battery life, clean your battery terminals, and determine if you need a battery recharge or replacement.
Did you know that it’s common for a car battery to fail once the weather gets cold? Most people assume that the cold weather is to blame, but that’s only partly true. See, batteries take a real beating during the hot summer months. High temperatures cause evaporation of the fluid in the battery’s cells. Once that fluid gets low, the battery is severely limited on how much charge it can hold. A weakened car battery may last through the summer, but die as soon as the weather changes.
Battery life depends on a few factors. The type of vehicle you drive, how long you routinely drive, and inclement weather can all impact the life span of your vehicle’s battery. Typically, auto batteries will last 5-7 years under ‘normal conditions’. However, if you drive in a hotter climate, you may need to replace your battery more frequently. If you drive in a very cold climate you’ll need to take precautions to keep your battery from freezing.
Ways To Extend Battery Life
There are several, simple ways to extend the life of your vehicle’s battery.
Keep it charged
Drive at least 20 minutes to give the alternator a chance to recharge the battery. Short trips of 10 minutes or less, can actually harm your battery over the long term.
Keep it from freezing
If temperatures drop below freezing, park your vehicle in the garage or use a thermal car cover if your vehicle has to be parked outside. Aftermarket battery covers or thermal blankets are also effective at keeping your battery warm when outside temperatures drop. Parking close to a heated building, or in direct sunshine, can also help reduce freezing temperatures from impacting your battery life.
Turn off all electrical accessories (radio, seat warmers, media players, etc.) before turning off the engine. And definitely don’t run those accessories with the engine turned off. They are power hogs and can drain a battery fairly quickly, to the point where there may not be enough juice left to re-start the engine.
Battery Inspection & Maintenance
Routine battery maintenance will also help extend the life of your battery. You can check your owner’s manual for a suggested schedule. Your service technician can also perform battery maintenance during any of your routine service appointments.
Keep Battery Terminals Clean
A clean battery operates better. If you notice corrosion on the battery terminals and cables, it’s a good idea to clean them up. Equal parts baking soda and cool water, plus an old toothbrush will remove corrosion with a little gentle scrubbing. If the battery cables are stuck, try cleaning them while they are still connected to the battery. They may be easier to remove once the surface corrosion is removed. Once they are free, you can give the terminals a deeper cleaning.
Check The Fluid Levels
Check the fluid levels if you have a battery that is serviceable. Only use deionized or distilled water if you need to add water. Common tap water has minerals and additives that can harm your battery.
For maintenance-free type batteries, check the inspection window for the charge status. A green dot in the viewing window means your battery is still good. If the window is dark, your battery needs to be re-charged. However, if the window is yellow or completely colorless, you need to replace your battery.
Test The Electrolyte
If you want to inspect the actual condition and charge level of your battery, you can do so by testing the fluid in your battery (this doesn’t work with maintenance-free batteries). The battery should be at room temperature. You will need a specific tool called a hydrometer. Follow the instructions that come with the tool, but here are the basic steps:
- Wear safety goggles and gloves.
- Remove the battery cell caps or covers.
- Insert the tube of the hydrometer into the first cell hole and use the bulb to draw the electrolyte fluid into the tester.
- Make sure the tester is level and record the reading.
- Squirt the fluid back into the same cell.
- Test all the cells the same way.
- Compare your results. A fully charged battery will have readings of 1.265 or higher in all cells. If your readings are consistently low (around 1.200) in all cells, then you need to recharge your battery. However, if one or more cells are different by .050 or more, then you need to replace the battery.
Finally, your battery should be charged to 12.6 volts. If it falls below 12.6 volts, it could reduce the overall performance and life of your battery. You can test the voltage by using a voltmeter. You can use an aftermarket battery charger or a trickle charger to recharge a low battery.
Battery Inspection in Ann Arbor, MI
Ron’s Garage has been serving Ann Arbor since 1982 and offer professional automotive services at a fair price with an emphasis on customer satisfaction. We are equipped to perform both major and minor repairs on all makes and models, imported or domestic up to one-ton. Let us test your battery and perform a battery maintenance service for you.
Schedule A Service
Call us today to schedule an appointment with any of our friendly service agents at (734) 961-4701 or visit us online.