You’re getting into your car ready to start your daily commute to work. You turn the key, but your car doesn’t start… Does this situation sound familiar? It’s happened to all of us — a dead car battery.
It’s a fact of life, all car batteries will inevitably run flat at some point. But, did you know there are a few simple things you can do to prolong the life of your car battery? We’ve outlined them below, so keep reading to find out how you can easily reduce your chance of getting stuck with a dead battery.
Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash
5 Ways to Make Your Car Battery Last Longer
1. Drive longer distances.
Driving longer distances more frequently is the number one way to increase your car’s battery life. In modern cars, the battery is charged by the alternator. The alternator generates a magnetic field through its rotations, which produces an electrical current. This current is then pushed back into the battery.
To activate the quickest charging, try to keep your RPM high. Generally this can be achieved by driving on the motorway. A short 30-minute drive with high RPMs should generate enough electricity to charge your battery.
If you’re confined to city driving, you’ll most likely have to drive for upwards of an hour to achieve the same result.
2. Turn off your lights.
Turning off your car lights may seem like a very obvious point, but doing so will have a major impact on the overall life of your car battery. Ensuring your lights are off when you’re not driving is an essential part of making the most out of your car’s battery life. Lights being left on without the engine running will use power, but as the engine is off, no more power will be generated to recharge the battery.
3. Keep your engine clean.
Keeping your engine clean is very important to maintaining a healthy car battery. Like most products, dirt and uncleanliness will cause faster car battery wear.
We all know batteries are prone to corrosion and your car battery is no exception. Corrosion is really easy to identify — simply look for white powder, generally around the nodes or clamps of the battery. If you do find corrosion, it’s important to take your car to an auto electrician to determine if you require a new battery.
In an attempt to minimise the chance of corrosion developing, ensure your car is serviced regularly. Another trick to minimise the risk of corrosion is to clean the battery clamps with baking soda, water and a non-metallic brush. Do not attempt to do this if the battery is already showing signs of corrosion.
If you’re unsure how to check your own battery, get in contact with your local auto electrician.
4. Keep up to date with servicing
This may seem obvious, but keeping up to date with car servicing will drastically increase battery life. As part of your general service, most mechanics are able to let you know if your battery is in need of replacement any time soon.
Naturally, worn or broken parts within your car are likely to put extra strain on your engine, therefore your battery. Staying up to date with your car’s general services will ensure all parts needing repair or replacement will be tended to before they start to take a toll on your vehicle.
5. Don’t sit idle with accessories on.
I personally learnt my lesson about leaving car features on the hard way. Leaving my radio and air conditioning on whilst the car was idle on Noosa beach at night was a regular activity for me. Trust me, I was warned this would flatten my battery, but as a seventeen year old, I was sure I knew better. That was until I had to call an auto electrician in the middle of the night for a new battery.
Similarly to leaving your headlights on, leaving accessories on whilst your car is not running is a sure fire way to flatten the battery. Whilst it takes a while for this behaviour to completely drain a battery, over time it will wear your battery down as it will not have the chance to charge.
Frequently asked questions about car batteries.
1. What is an auto electrician?
An auto electrician is certified to work on a car’s electrics, like the battery. They are involved in everything from the product, development, testing and maintenance or car electrics.
2. How long does a car battery last?
On average, a car battery lasts between two to five years. Like most things in life, this depends drastically on the amount of use the battery is subjected to. Equally important is the maintenance of the car itself. Aim to service your car as recommended.
3. When would you call an auto electrician?
You should call an auto electrician when you need help with the auto electrical aspects of your car, not mechanical. This includes help with:
- Car batteries.
- Electronic fuel injector systems.
- Ignition systems.
- Air conditioning.
- Alarms and anti-theft systems.
4. How do auto electricians differ from mechanics?
As technology itself evolves, its presence in modern cars increases. Cars built in 2020 have everything from blind spot detection to voice activated controls. Auto electricians specialise in the electric components of vehicles such as touch screens and power windows. Whereas mechanics focus on the mechanical running of the vehicle.
5. Will jump-starting my car damage my car’s computer?
Jump-starting your car may be your only option during desperate times, but when done incorrectly, it does have the potential to damage your car. The damage caused by incorrect jump-starting is often to the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) — an expensive part to replace.
To jump-star a car correctly, ensure both cars are have the same system voltages, this information should be in your can manual. Before attempting anything further, ensure all the accessories are off and the keys are removed from the ignition of BOTH cars. One of the easiest ways to avoid damage is to ensure the jumper leads are connected correctly.
This may sound simple, but it is extremely important to connect the red lead to the positive (+) terminal of the flat battery, connect the other end to the positive (+) terminal of the booster battery. The negative (-) terminal of the booster battery must be connected to the black lead. Connect the other end to a stationary solid metal component of the car with the flat battery.
At this stage, you should be able to start the engine of the car with the flat battery. Let it run idle for 10 minutes before switching the car off and removing the jumper leads.
It’s very important to note, if you are not confident in performing the aforementioned steps, it’s advised you contact your local auto electrician.
6. How much does it cost to replace the battery in my car?
In Australia, you can expect to pay between $80 to $200 for a brand new car battery. However, if you have a luxury car, you may be facing a higher price of up to $350. It’s important to note, these prices do not include the cost of labour.
For more information on how to get the most out of your car battery, get in contact with your local auto electrician.