“How often should I check my car battery?”
We get asked this question from time to time…so let’s talk about a little car maintenance advice.
Car battery life is something we tend to not think much about until something goes wrong. There are some things, though, that you can do from time to time so you don’t end up at the shop asking, “Please check my car battery.”
- Not all batteries require liquid; many newer batteries feature a sealed-cell design that never requires maintenance. However, if your battery has caps that can be removed, use a flashlight to check the fluid level in each cell from time to time. The battery’s acid shouldn’t reach the bottom of the cap, but it shouldn’t be far down in the cell, either (some batteries will have fluid level indicators). Always remember that tap water includes lime and other minerals and contaminants that can build up in the cells of the battery and impede the battery’s capability to hold a charge; use distilled water instead.
- One of the biggest problems we run across with the “check my car battery” question is corrosion. Fluffy greenish-white corrosion can form around the battery’s terminals and the ends of the battery cables, and nothing will keep a battery from operating properly quicker than corrosion. Periodically check the cable ends and terminals for corrosion; tools are available specifically to clean those surfaces. Anticorrosion gels and washers are also available to head off future corrosion problems.
- Check the battery’s voltage periodically. A 12-volt battery should read about 14.4 volts with the engine shut off. Lower voltage readings may indicate a battery that’s starting to weaken.
Remember, though – the “check my car battery” question doesn’t always mean problems with the battery itself. A battery that doesn’t hold or take a charge may also be a sign of a failing alternator, voltage regulator, bad battery cables, or other problems.
Got doubts about your car battery? Bring it in to Big O Tires and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have!