If you’ve ever found yourself with a dead car battery, you know just how frustrating it can be -- not to mention the cost of replacing it. To make sure it’s something you go through as infrequently as possible, try out the six easy tips for making yours the Mick Jagger of car batteries -– it’ll keep on rocking.
Everything works better when clean, and that goes for car batteries. The terminals are a common spot for corrosion buildup, blocking the current from passing from the battery to the cables. You can scrape it away with a screwdriver or pliers, or call a professional if it looks serious. Then tighten the clamps and turn the ignition. You may find that your “dead” battery has come back to life.
This is especially true for cold climates, where starting the car is extra taxing on the battery. But it holds in warmer places as well: the less often you start the car, the less work the battery has to do (up to a certain point, it does need to run occasionally to hold a charge). So wrap several short errands into one longer trip, or take your bike or walk, if you’re up for it.
If there’s some extra room around the battery, consider installing an insulation blanket. The plastic sheet will keep the battery warm in the winter and cool in the summer, greatly extending its life. If you’re buying a new battery, think about going for a smaller size so you can fit the blanket around it- it will likely last longer than a larger battery with nothing protecting it.
You may not know it, but dirt and other gunk on the casing of your battery can actually drain its power. It’s a simple fix; just use a damp rag to keep it squeaky clean.
Going away for a few weeks, or giving up driving for a while? Try totally disconnecting the battery, so the little things don’t drain its energy. No one will be checking the car’s clock, anyway. Before trying this, make sure you know what you’re doing, though.
If you find yourself with a dead battery and no choice but to jump it, it’s still possible to reduce some of the stress the process puts on the battery. The warmer it is, the better. Put the car in neutral and push it into the sunlight, then leave it for an hour or so. The increased temperature will make the jump start go much more smoothly.