Preventative maintenance tips for your car’s battery
When your mechanic mentions the weather might have an effect on your car’s battery, being Canadian, no one could fault you for assuming he is getting a pretty early start on prepping your car for winter. Not so. But the reality is that heat can be just as damaging to a vehicle battery as the cold. High temperatures also have a tendency to impact the battery performance. Here are some ideas to keep your battery in top shape and avoid a breakdown.
If you’re of a certain age, you may recall the days when an attendant would pop the hood of your car and check its oil while pumping fuel. Those days are long gone. However, it remains a good idea to take a minute or two and give your engine bay a quick once-over when you fill up. Even if a person is not at all mechanically inclined, a peek under the hood can avert a mishap.
Fizz and Foam?
What battery-related problems should the new driver look for under the hood? Check for obvious signs of corrosion, which looks like white or bluish/green foam. This stuff generally collects on the battery terminals, indicating a failing battery and can actually block the flow of power since it is non-conductive. Use gloves if you choose to brush some of it away yourself.
Down the drain.
Completely running a battery flat does it no favors. Sure, it’s great to hear tunes or charge up a device while waiting for a family member at the hardware store, but be sure to start the engine from time to time provided you’re in a well-ventilated area. This will introduce a bit of juice back into the battery and keep it in good shape.
Hot, hot, heat.
All cars generate heat but an excessively warm engine bay can do a number on its battery, which contains vital liquids that can evaporate when the mercury climbs to outrageous levels. Make sure the vehicle is up-to-date with maintenance items like engine coolant and engine accessory belts, both of which can help other mechanical systems reduce ambient temperature under the hood of a car. A properly functioning belt will also permit the alternator, a key component of keeping the battery charged up, to operate at peak efficiency.
We know the simple act of parking in a shaded area can be very effective in preventing the interior of your car from baking in the sun. Logically, that same action also keeps the heat off mechanical components, including the battery. We know excessive heat can wreck a battery’s internal liquids but it can also speed up corrosion, harming its internal structures.