Car batteries are expensive. This means that you’re going to want to maximize the usable life of the battery you have installed in your car. There are a number of things that you can do to make your car battery last longer.
Most car batteries are listed as maintenance free. This isn’t completely true. The electrolyte in batteries of all kinds, including the so-called ‘maintenance free’ ones, will boil off and evaporate over time. This will decrease the usable life span of the battery. Two or three times a month, you should carefully pry these two caps off with a small screwdriver and check the levels in the individual cells. If the level of the electrolyte doesn’t reach the lip approximately ¾ of an inch below the cap seal, you should add (only) distilled water or store bought electrolyte until the proper level is reached. If you use store bought electrolyte, which will last longer than distilled water, use extreme caution as it is an extremely caustic acid.
It’s not healthy for a car’s battery when it’s exposed to extreme high temperatures under the hood repeatedly and for extended periods of time. One product that you can use to combat this is a thermal battery wrap or blanket. This thermal wrap insulates the battery from the heat found under the hood of your car.
If you live in an area where extreme cold is encountered on a regular basis, you should look into a powered thermal blanket with heating elements. This will help to protect your battery from the freezing and sub-freezing temperatures found in some of the northern states.
Over time, your battery terminals are going to corrode. There is really no way to keep this from happening. It can only be controlled. There are many different substances than are good for cleaning car battery terminals of the corrosion buildup. Baking soda and water poured over the terminals and then scrubbed in with an old toothbrush is the most recommended method. Another method is to pour Coca-Cola over the terminals and scrub with an old toothbrush. Either way, when you finish scrubbing, you need to rinse the battery well. Once a month you should pull the cables from the posts and use a battery brush or terminal cleaner to clean both of the battery posts or terminals, as well as the cable ends.
The last thing you can do in order to increase the usable life of your battery is to regularly test it with a car battery tester. This is a device which puts the battery under a heavy load for a given period of time, usually 30 seconds, while checking the output voltage level. If the meter indicates in the green range, the battery still has enough capacity to be classified as in good condition.