How to Check and Maintain your Car Battery

February 17th, 2023 by

Checking your car battery is important for maintaining the long-term performance and usability of your vehicle. Understanding how to check your vehicle’s battery and methods you can use to prolong its lifespan can help you avoid costly fees and reduce the number of times you replace the battery. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of battery maintenance, how to check your vehicle’s battery, and tips for maintaining its performance.

Why Is Battery Maintenance Important?

How To Check and Maintain Your Car Battery

battery by sarchi is licensed with CC BY 2.0

Maintaining your vehicle’s battery is important because it connects to several parts of your vehicle, including the ignition, lights, and infotainment system. When your battery dies, you can’t start your car, which can create a hassle for you if you need to get somewhere urgently. Thankfully, the process to check your battery is simple, and you can follow several tips to maintain its longevity.

How To Check Your Car Battery

To check your car’s battery, you need a voltmeter. This is a tool that measures the potential difference between two parts of a circuit, such as the positive and negative terminals of your car’s battery. You can find a voltmeter at any auto parts store. To use the voltmeter on your car’s battery, turn off your car, set the voltmeter to “DV Volts” or “V,” and connect the positive lead to the positive, red terminal of your battery. Then, connect the negative lead to the negative, black terminal of your battery.

You should get a reading of 12.65 volts or higher. If you have a lower reading, then it’s time to replace your battery. If you have a good reading, you can keep the battery, though there are some steps you can also take to maintain it.

Clean the Battery Terminals With a Wire Brush

Cleaning the terminals can improve the connection between the battery and its connectors, allowing more power through and reducing the strain on the battery. To clean the terminals, make sure your vehicle is off. Then, unplug the negative connector followed by the positive connector, and make sure you don’t touch them together or touch any metal part of the vehicle with them. Once the battery is disconnected from the vehicle, you can use a wire brush to remove dirt, rust, and grime from the terminals by gently scrubbing them. Once you’re done scrubbing them, reconnect the battery.

Coat the Terminals and Wires With Terminal Spray

Terminal spray is a protective coating for your terminals and connectors. Coating the terminals and connectors with a terminal spray can protect them from corrosion, rust, and dirt. You can find terminal spray at an auto parts store, but make sure you get spray meant for battery terminals. Once you have the spray, hold the can about 4 inches from the terminal and spray it until it’s coated. Then repeat with the other terminal.

Tighten the Battery

Excessive vibrating and rattling can cause damage to your car’s battery over time. To prevent this, most cars have a battery hold down, which is often a metal or plastic brace that keeps the battery tight to the engine block. To test if it’s loose, you can shake the battery. If it rattles or moves a lot, then you can tighten the brace using hand tools. If the hold down is damaged, then get a replacement.

Wrap the Battery in a Battery Heater

If you live in a cold climate or winter is approaching, then you can wrap your car’s battery in a battery heater. This is a tool that keeps the battery warm and protects it from the cold. The cold can drain a battery, so keeping it warm throughout the winter can prolong the battery’s lifetime. Depending on the warmer and your car, you may need to remove the battery completely and then apply the heater.

Check the Battery Fluid Level

Battery fluid ensures the plates transfer electricity effectively. You can check the battery fluid level by unscrewing the vent caps at the top of the battery and checking the plates with a flashlight. If they’re covered by the liquid, then the fluid level is good. If they’re not, then you can replace the liquid by adding distilled water to plates until they’re covered. Checking the fluid level at every oil change can prolong your battery’s lifespan.

Unplug Appliances When the Car Isn’t Running

To maintain the charge of your battery, you can unplug appliances from inside the car. This includes any charging ports, outlets, and additional lights you may have. For example, you may have a phone charger you use in your car. Unplug that when you leave your car to keep your battery operating at its peak efficacy.

Turn Off Lights When the Car Isn’t Running

Lights use the battery to remain lit. Cars have both interior and exterior lights, and leaving them on can drain the battery quickly, preventing it from working the next time you use your vehicle. When you exit your car, ensure you turn off all the lights as soon as possible to prevent your battery from being drained.

Drive the Car Regularly

Driving the car regularly ensures the battery remains charged. Sitting without use for a long time not only drains the battery but can also damage other parts of your vehicle. So even if you don’t need to use your car, driving it occasionally ensures everything remains in good working condition.

Purchase a New Battery When It’s Time for a Replacement

When it’s time to replace your battery, buy a new battery with a manufacture date within the past month to get the best performance. An older battery may have less charge and cause you to need a replacement sooner. Avoid buying a used or discounted battery, as they are likely to fail quickly.

Now that you’ve learned about how to maintain and check your car battery, you can contact AutoCenters Herculaneum to learn more about maintaining your vehicle. We have a team of professionals ready to help you learn about financing a new car, selling or trading used cars, and researching vehicles.


Posted in Used cars