How to take care of your car battery

You don't have to wait until you break down to change your car battery.

 As a battery goes through a slow decline, there may be warning signs that it's about to fail. Learn how to take care of your battery so you can get the best value from it.

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Pointers 

Check your electrical connections

Make sure battery terminals and cable connections are clean and tight to enable proper current flow. Corrosion at the battery terminals can prevent a car from starting by adding electrical resistance, so it is important to clean the terminals periodically using water and a wire brush. Ensure you wear the correct protective gear (gloves and eye protection) as the white powder (lead sulphate) is toxic if inhaled, ingested or comes into contact with your skin.

Keep batteries clean and dry

A dirty battery surface can lead to a discharge and corrosion. It is important to avoid spilling oil or grease onto the top of the battery.

Keep your battery charged

Under-charged or under-used batteries will slowly go flat over time which will reduce the life of your battery. This happens most often in watercraft through the winter months or vehicles left unused for long periods of time. It's important to keep a battery fully charged to ensure maximum life.

Handle with care

For your own safety we recommend you have  your battery checked and tested by a professional.

  • Do not place metallic objects on top of the battery as this may cause the battery to short
  • Keep flames and sparks away from batteries as they contain hydrogen gas and may catch fire or explode
  • Batteries contain sulphuric acid so make sure no part of your body or anything damageable comes into contact with the acid. If this happens, use large amounts of water to neutralise and flush acid away
  • Batteries are heavy so use correct lifting procedures and if the battery has one, use the carry handle to move the battery
  • Keep children away from batteries

Winter battery care

No one likes getting up on a cold frosty morning, least of all your car. Starting your car in the cold may cause it to suffer from hard starting and excessive cranking which has a huge effect on the motor and electrical system.

The best way to avoid your car not starting in the morning is to:

  • Keep your car in the garage.
    This will protect it from the cold. Starting will be a lot easier, putting less strain on the battery.
  • Make sure the battery is not loose.
    Vibration can cause damage to battery case and plates. Ensure terminals are cleaned regularly during every major service.
  • Ensure your battery water level is always topped up.
    If you have a 'Standard' or 'Low Maintenance' battery, you should remove the filter caps and check the water level every month. Make sure it is topped up with distilled water to just above the plates. Mop up any spillage.
  • Listen for early warning sounds.
    One of the most common signs of a weak battery is slow cranking when you start the car. If this happens contact a battery specialist.
  • Check the age of your battery.
    Older car batteries are less likely to start your car in the winter. If your battery is more than three years old it may need replacing.

When to replace your car battery

Many times the first hint of a battery problem shows up during the starting process.

If the car battery is too weak to provide a sufficient voltage to the starter, you'll hear a distinctive clicking sound and the engine won't crank over. This clicking indicates that the battery is not fully charged.

AA Battery Service can perform a battery test to determine if the battery needs to be replaced. Sometimes a faulty alternator will be the culprit, but other times the test will reveal a weak battery not capable of holding a charge. This means the battery must be replaced.

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